Senators seek update on stranded Pakistanis


The Saudi crown prince has allocated a special package of 100m Riyals for the rehabilitation of the expat labourers. PHOTO: AFP

The Saudi crown prince has allocated a special package of 100m Riyals for the rehabilitation of the expat labourers. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel has recommended that the Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development share with the committee steps being taken by the government to address the grievances of expat labourers based in Saudi Arabia.

In the committee meeting on Thursday, Chairman Senator Baz Muhammad said that efforts would be made to relieve the suffering of the labourers stranded in Saudi Arabia, calling for the minister to report to the committee in two weeks’ time.

The committee was informed that the minister was expected to travel to Saudi Arabia, where he would visit Pakistani labourers in their respective companies and share his findings with the embassy in Pakistan for a way forward.

A delegation of the business community of Pakistani origin in Saudi Arabia, attending the meeting, said that the performance of the embassy was disappointing.

They raised issues of expired visas, passports and iqama (residence permits), denial to accessing personal bank accounts, movement restriction, transfer of sponsorship and uninterrupted food supply which restricts them from returning to the country.  An official at the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis Azmat Khan pointed out that more than 10,000 Pakistanis were stranded because of monetary losses to three major Saudi firms.  Pakistani labourers are mainly faced with non-payment of salaries, expiry of visas, non-renewing of iqamas and exploitation at the hands of employers and contractors.

He further informed the committee that each expat labourer had been given an amount of 300 riyal through the embassy. The government of Pakistan has declared to disburse an amount of Rs50,000 per family.

Meanwhile, the Saudi crown prince has allocated a special package of 100 million Riyals for the rehabilitation of the expat labourers. However, the committee urged the government to find a permanent solution to the issues of the labourers, as opposed to doling out temporary relief.

Senator Rehman Malik stated that the Federal Investigation Agency should investigate the mechanism of sending labourers abroad. He recommended utilising overseas funds to facilitate stranded labourers in Saudi Arabia.

Senator Muhammad Ali Saif called for raising voice against the Saudi companies through ILO and other international human rights organisations for the resolution of the issue.

Senator Hafiz Humdullah said that the labourers get sub-human treatment in Saudi Arabia. “They are treated worse than Dalits in India,” he quipped.


Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1160670/senators-seek-update-stranded-pakistanis/