Pakistan has become a leading country in the region, leaving behind India and Bangladesh in the export of manpower in 2020 despite the pandemic.
According to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2020-21, Pakistan’s exports of skilled manpower had surged to 224,705 against India and Bangladesh which had managed to export merely 94,145 and 217,699 workers respectively.
However, Pakistan’s exports of manpower had fallen from 2019 which had stood at 625,203 after a yearly decline of 400,498. Similarly, India and Bangladesh had declines of 273,093 and 482,490 respectively in terms of their emigrants registered during 2020 as compared to 2019.
A significant decline in the exports of manpower was due to the pandemic as many countries imposed a blanket ban on the migration and traveling for foreign employees to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Pakistan is one of the countries that luckily contained the spread of the coronavirus, allowing it to surpass its regional competitors such as India and Bangladesh in the export of skilled workers.
Destinations of Overseas Workers and Their Origins
According to the Bureau of Emigration & Overseas Employment (BE&OE), Saudi Arabia is the main destination for Pakistani emigrants, with more than 60 percent of emigrants, followed by the UAE (24 percent), and Oman (4.6 percent) during 2020. Due to the pandemic, an overall declining trend was observed in terms of emigrants registered in 2020 including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
In 2020, the highest number of workers who went abroad was 118,818 from the Punjab, followed by 68,299 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The number of workers from Sindh was 16,950 9,026 from the tribal areas, 7,865 from Azad Kashmir, 1,869 from Balochistan, and 244 from the Northern Areas.
The professions of these workers are usually laborers, drivers, technicians, masons, carpenters, clerks, accountants, and managers.
The Government’s Efforts to Promote Overseas Employment
The Ministry of Overseas Pakistani & Human Resource Development has taken various steps to boost the export of manpower and to ensure regular emigration, for which a Task Force has been established for its enhancement and to facilitate Pakistani expatriates.
Furthermore, the ministry had signed bilateral agreements/MOUs with destination countries such as Turkey and Malaysia in 2020 to boost the export of manpower. It is also working actively to explore job opportunities for Pakistani workers in non-traditional countries. In this regard, a comprehensive diversification strategy has been developed for the top five priority countries — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Malaysia, Qatar, and Oman — along with five other potential/non-traditional countries such as Kuwait, South Korea, Japan, Germany, and China.
The survey also detailed that in order to provide one-window facilitation services to intending emigrants, the BE&OE has deployed a project called the ‘Registration of Intending Emigrants via Biometric Verification System linked with NADRA’ through which the completion of the protector registration procedure has been made possible in minimum time, and is being implemented in all the Protector of Emigrants Offices.