Mamarha Afridi

PESHAWAR: A large number of people in Pakistan go abroad every year in search of livelihood due to prevailing situation of unemployment in the country. These people arrange money through loan or selling their land or women’s jewellery to go abroad for work in a hope for serving their families back in Pakistan.

However, the coronavirus pandemic even snatched jobs of overseas Pakistanis and many had to return with heavy losses. Muhammad Bibi from Landikotal area of Khyber tribal district had sold her gold jewellery to send her son to Malaysia for work. However, in a tragic turn of events, her son was affected from coronavirus three months after reaching Malaysia.

Muhammad Bibi told TNN that her son was an illegal resident in Malaysia where the authorities caught him and sent him back to Pakistan. Her husband fell ill after that and died, which further worsened the scenario for the poor family. In that way, the poor family lost all its belongings and also the head of the family.

Umar Wazir, who works at Migrant Resource Centre, said the work of Pakistani labourers abroad suffered a lot due to coronavirus pandemic. He said a large number of Pakistani workers had to return to Pakistani as their visas were not renewed. He said many companies and factories in Pakistan and in Gulf countries had to be closed due to coronavirus which added to unemployment.

Umar Wazir said although the coronavirus situation has improved globally, but still challenges remain. He said currently only the people from Pakistan can directly go to Qatar and Oman.

Citing data from Bureau of Immigration, Umar Wazir said as many as 18 million Pakistani citizens are working abroad, and 2.7 million of them belong to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said about 40,000 women from Pakistan have gone abroad since 1973, and this figure constitutes just 0.3 percent of the whole migrant population.

Umar Wazir said no authentic data about those rendered jobless due to coronavirus pandemic is available so far. However, he said, it is a fact that the valuable remittances sent by Pakistani citizens from abroad serve as a lifeline for Pakistani economy.

 

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