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> Issues of Pakistani Migrant Workers: Unity – A Way Forward
   PILDAT Briefing Session for Balochistan MPAs
Briefing Session
December 19, 2008


Quetta, December 19: We need to unite as a nation. Prosperity will be the result of, if, we come up with the right policies as a united nation to overcome the problems of Pakistani Migrant Workers, said Mr. Jan Ali Changezi, Minister for Quality Education, Balochistan. While speaking as the chief guest at the briefing session on ‘Pakistani Migrant Workers: Significance and Issues’, he announced that this briefing session has indeed been concise and informative especially for the Members of the Provincial Assembly.


He acknowledged that it is his foremost duty as the legislator to come up with the appropriate remedial measures to curtail the issues of the Migrant workers. Also, to make sure that these measures taken are appropriately implemented. He further added that to experience the true essence of prosperity we have to unite as a nation. Unity is one aspect which we as a nation lack and is the reason for the non-prosperity and there is a dire need to overcome this weakness at all fronts. He appreciated PILDAT’s role in spreading the crucial awareness.


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 PILDAT has specifically organized this session to address and highlight these issues in an informative manner.


While speaking on the topic of ‘Key Issues relating to Pakistani Migrant Workers and the need for Legislative action – A Legislator’s Perspective’Ms Anusha Rehman, MNA and Advocate, 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 they 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 effective solutions 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 Anusha identified the ways forward from a legislators perspective are to improve the data and information on immigration and develop informed based policies. Also, she suggested that we need to work actively with the foreign missions in Pakistan to support and protect victims.


Mr. Adnan Sattar, Consultant, explained that 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.


The speakers, among them Mr. Zia Awan, President, LHRLA, voiced his concern over the legislative agenda for Pakistan. He stressed that Pakistan has to become a signatory to the International Convention on Protection of Migrant Workers in order to protect the rights of migrant workers and to avoid the rampant violations of labour rights in the country. Also, despite the fact that Pakistan had ratified eight conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), their implementation remains weak.


In the end PILDAT, thanked everyone for their participation and indulging in an informative and productive discussion. PILDAT thanked the chief guest, Members of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan and other guests for their active participation in the event. The MPAs included; Ms. Nasreen Rehaman Kehtran PML-Q and Mr. Bimillah Kakar Ex- MPA PPPP. Participants from major Politcal Parties included President Lawyer Group of PML-N, Mr. Abdul Manah - PMAP; and Dr Jehanzeb Jamaludin -BNP. PILDAT also thanked the Mr. Imad Ashraf - Solidarity Center for their participation and contributions as the prime donors for the entire project.