Published in The Express Tribune on December 18, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Nearly a million Pakistanis have been sent abroad for work by the PTI government over the past two years, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari said on the occasion of World Migrants Day.
“Despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, Pakistani expatriates were able to send a record $21.84 billion in remittances back to the country in the previous financial year of 2019-20,” he added.
With the total rising 16.73 per cent since 2014-15, most of these remittances came from Gulf countries, the PM’s aide said, adding that agreements had been reached over the last two years with various countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and others.
In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of migrants lost their jobs and faced challenges in different countries.
“As a country of destination, Pakistan continues to host millions of regular as well as irregular migrants from neighbouring and regional countries. Pakistanis have always shown generosity and hospitality towards all migrants without any discrimination,” the ministry said.
Highlighting the challenges migrants face, the foreign ministry urged other countries hosting migrants to ensure their fair and ethical treatment, including access to health care and social protection without discrimination.
“Migrant workers have also been exposed to increased hardship due to xenophobia, discrimination, disinformation and the use of stigmatizing narratives,” it said, urging international cooperation to improve migrants’ well-being and working conditions, as well as ensure their integration and protection from the Covid-19 pandemic.