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> Legislators’ Perspective: Issues of Pakistani Migrant Workers – A Way Forward
   PILDAT Briefing Session for Sindh MPAs
Briefing Session
December 18, 2008
Hotel Pearl Continental, Karachi


Karachi, December 18: Better planning, policies and skills training for Pakistani migrant workers are essential if Pakistan needs to compete in the international market, said Mr. Amir Nawab, Minister of Labour, Sindh who was Chief Guest at the PILDAT Briefing Session Overseas Pakistani Workers: Significance and Issues of Migration held at Hotel Pearl Continental, Karachi.


The chief guest acknowledged that issues of the Overseas Migrant Workers are indeed a matter of concern for our country. He appreciated PILDAT’s initiative and said that the briefing session has been very informative for the MPAs. He said that it was his foremost duty as the Minister of Labour to come up with appropriate policies and measures to resolve issues relating to migrant workers.


Overseas Pakistani Workers are an asset for our country especially when it comes to looking at the macroeconomic perspective of the economy. Remittances play an important role in maintaining a certain balance of the foreign reserves for our country. The issues related to migration act as hindrances and hamper its true outcome in working towards progressive economy. These issues are of extreme importance and call for immediate attention of the legislators, policy makers and other actors who play a vital role in the formulation of appropriate policies. To curtail such problems at the grass-root level one needs to address these in an informative manner. PILDAT specifically organized the briefing session in order to address and highlight these issues.


Mr. Adnan Sattar, one of the speakers at the briefing session explained how the terms ‘Migration’, ‘Smuggling’ and ‘Trafficking’ are distinct from each other. He said that the issues related with International Migration come under two broad categories: Recruitment and Preparation; and Migrants Rights. The main problems being faced today by the migrants are High Costs incurred on emigration through the middle men which leaves migrant workers in debt, Immigrants have minimal legal protection as compare to the nationals, and unskilled and semi skilled workers are exploited with long working hours. He further added that these and other related problems can be curtailed by improving the monitoring of the Overseas Employment Promoters; equitable distribution of the emigration opportunities and support infrastructure across the country; and countries of destination should be diversified. He stressed that all public policies such as labour, employment, education policies etc needs to be audited from a migration perspective. He believes that counter trafficking policies should contain a component which seeks to ensure protection, support and decentralization of trafficked people.


Ms. Anusha Rehman, MNA and Advocate, spoke on the topic of the Key Issues relating to Pakistani Migrant Workers and the need for Legislative Action: A Legislator’s Perspective. She explained that the issues faced by the migrants at two pronged: one are at national level and the others are at international level. At the international level one of the main issue is the systems used for the transfer of remittances which are not fast, effective and convenient and are leading to the misperception that the money transferred in the form such as hawala/ hundi are associated with drug and commodity smuggling. Secondly, foreign missions are least interested in establishing a certain level of respect for the national and international migrant workers. Nationally the major problems are no proper family laws related with forced marriages and efficient judicial system to guarantee liberty of citizens. These issues can be addressed and dealt with effectively if the level of coordination between the inter-ministerial and inter- provincial increases. This in turn will help in the formulation of coherent policies that will encourage remittances and Foreign Direct Investment leading to economic growth of the country. Ms Rahman identified that the ways forward from a legislators perspective are to improve the data and information on immigration and develop informed based policies.


Dr. Sabur Ghayur, Chairman Policy Planning Cell, Labor and Manpower Division, spoke on the topic and highlighted the key issues related to promoting migration & protecting migrants; magnitude and trends of migrations from Pakistan. He talked of the problems faced by migrants and possible legislative agendas relating to migration. Promoting migration is important as it addresses the issues of employment and poverty; it tackles development resource constraints, and contributes to human capital formation as well as to brain gain, he proposed.