Islamabad, September 28
Pakistani beggars travel to the Middle East under the guise of pilgrimage and indulge in begging-related activities, leading to complaints of prison overcrowding in countries like Saudi Arabia, an official has told lawmakers.
“Pakistani beggars travel to the Middle East under the guise of ziarat (pilgrimage). Most people visit Saudi Arabia on Umrah visas and then indulge in begging-related activities,” Secretary Overseas Pakistanis, Zeeshan Khanzada told a meeting of the Senate's standing committee for Overseas Pakistanis on Wednesday.
A majority of the pickpockets arrested from within Makkah's grand mosque are Pakistani nationals, daily The International News quoted Khanzada as saying.
Pakistan is facing an unprecedented economic crisis with skyrocketing inflation amid price rise on fuel and food fronts.
“Ambassadors of Iraq and Saudi Arabia complain to us that their prison facilities have been overrun (due to Pakistani beggars that enter the country via unauthorised channels), Khanzada was quoted as saying.
“This issue now befalls within the category of human trafficking,” he added.
There are 1.6 million and 2 lakh Pakistanis residing in the UAE and Qatar respectively, the official said.
“People are ready to pay (as much as) Rs 5 million to go abroad in search of jobs,” he said.
The media report further quoted Rana Mahmoodul Hassan Kakar, who was the chair, as saying that only 200 Pakistanis travelled to Japan after the island country had floated a requirement of 3,40,000 skilled people.
Stating that Pakistan had 50,000 unemployed engineers, Kakar drew a comparison to Nepal which has a total population of 30 million and yet, managed to train their people in the Japanese language (and send them there), the International News said.
Secretary Khanzada also revealed that Pakistan trails behind countries such as India and Bangladesh “despite the fact that there is a significantly large number of Pakistanis living abroad.”
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