Review of Pakistan’s overseas employment

Experts identified that Pakistan is one of the largest labour exporting country in the region. Overseas migrant workers are the most valuable asset of Pakistan and they are playing major role in the socio-economic development of Pakistan by their remittances. Statistics showed that greater than 11.43 million Pakistanis have proceeded abroad for employment to over 50 countries by official procedures. The migration of Pakistani workers is mostly concentrated to Gulf Cooperation Council countries (96 percent) with Saudi Arabia and UAE hosting the majority.

During 2020, Bureau of Emigration & Overseas Employment has registered 224,705 for overseas employment as compared to emigrants 625,203 in 2019 explaining a decline of 400,498 people as compared to the previous year.

Statistics also showed that Saudi Arabia (KSA) is the main destination country for Pakistani emigrants where greater than 60 percent of emigrants proceeded followed by UAE (24 percent) and Oman (4.6percent). Because of Covid-19 pandemic, overall a falling trend was observed in terms of emigrants registered in 2020 including GCC countries.

During 2020, the highest number of workers went abroad were 118,818 from Punjab, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 68,299. The Pandemic unluckily hampered the manpower export not only from Pakistan but also from other regional countries. Statistics also showed that a total of 224,705 emigrants were recorded for overseas employment from Pakistan in year 2020 as against to 625,203 registered in 2019 which explains the decrease of 400,498 emigrants. Similarly, India and Bangladesh faced a fall of 273,093 and 482,490 respectively in terms of emigrants registered during 2020 as compared to 2019. In Pakistan, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistani & Human Resource Development (OP&HRD) has taken various steps to increase the manpower export and to ensure regular emigration: –

  • Task Force has been established in order to enhance manpower export and facilitation of Overseas Pakistanis.
  • To boost manpower export, Ministry of OP&HRD signed bilateral Agreements/ MOUs with destination countries such as Turkey and Malaysia in 2020.
  • Ministry of OP&HRD is actively working to explore job opportunities for Pakistani workers in non-traditional countries. In this regard, a comprehensive dirversification strategy has been developed for top five priority countries i.e. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia, Qatar & Oman along with other five potential/ non-traditional countries such as Kuwait, South Korea, Japan, Germany and China to promote the export of manpower to these countries.
  • To provide One-window facilitation services to intending emigrants, BE&OE deployed a project titled, “Registration of Intending Emigrants via Biometric Verification System linked with NADRA” through which protector registration procedure completion has been made possible in minimum time and is being implemented in all Protector of Emigrants Offices.
  • Campaign against illegal overseas job advertisements in close coordination with media, FIA, PTA and other relevant Departments. Moreover, in order to tighten enforcement and zero tolerance policy with respect to emigrants complaints, licenses of Overseas Employment Promoter are suspended, if found involved in breaking/violating the Emigration Ordinance/Rules 1979.
  • OEC inked a cooperation Agreement with the Ministry of Health (MoH), Kuwait for supply of medical professionals. Resultantly, 404 medical professionals (doctors/ nurses/technicians) have joined their duties in various hospitals of Kuwait. Further recruitment of medical professional for Kuwait is under process. The cooperation between Pakistan and Kuwait in the field of employment has revived after a long time. OEC convenes online and in-person Korean language classes for the facilitation of those candidates who are interested to go to Korea for employment purpose. 375 students were enrolled for the said classes from July to December 2020.
  • To tackle the situation emerged due to Covid-19 pandemic, BE&OE developed a comprehensive reintegration strategy for returned migrant workers to analyze the impact of Covid-19 on labor migration and suggested a plan which includes registration of returnee workers profile by OEC, so that they can be contacted if any job arises matching their credentials.
  • 14,176 jobseekers have registered themselves on OEC Online Job Portal for Overseas Employment and Reintegration from July to March 2021. The portal provides one-step solution to overseas job seekers, Overseas Employment Promoters and foreign employers.
  • To facilitate Pakistani emigrant going abroad, an initiative ‘Worker’s Foree Remittance Account’ with a full feature bank account available in current and profit and loss sharing-saving accounts were inaugurated at all 09 Protectorate Offices across Pakistan.
Pakistani Workers Registered For Overseas Employment
Year Federal Punjab Sindh Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Balochistan Azad Kashmir N/Areas Tribal Area Total
2016 8,472 446,566 85,326 206,929 6,378 43,093 2,961 39,628 839,353
2017 4,635 261,849 53,590 107,366 4,528 33,318 3,417 27,583 496,286
2018 2,471 185,902 41,551 88,361 2,930 33,028 2,760 25,436 382,439
2019 4,295 312,439 57,171 186,176 5,103 30,151 2,554 27,314 625,203
2020 1,814 118,818 16,950 68,299 1,869 7,685 244 9,026 224,705
Source: Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment

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