Ministry opposes moving ILO to help Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia

Islamabad:The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis has said that Islamabad could not ask the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to intervene in the matter of Pakistani workers stranded in Saudi Arabia. "Pakistan is not in a position to file a case against Saudi Arabia or write to the ILO because Jeddah can expel them with a single order," Dawn online on Friday quoted Khizar Hayat Khan, Secretary in the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, as saying. Hayat Khan made the statement while speaking at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis, chaired by Senator Baz Mohammad Khan. Hayat Khan said the matter had been taken up with the Saudi government. Earlier, a Foreign Affairs Ministry official said 10,395 Pakistanis, who were moved to 20 camps, were facing financial problems due to not being paid by their respective companies. He said the Pakistani embassy in Saudi Arabia was providing food to the stranded persons and paying them 200 Saudi riyals each. Hayat Khan also said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had allocated a Rs 500 million fund for the stranded people and their families in Pakistan were being paid Rs 50,000. However, Senator Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif said the workers were sent under an agreement between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and international labour laws were applicable in this case. "The issue has been going on for nine months and the government took no interest in it. The government can write to the ILO and ask it to play its role in addressing the matter," he said. "Labour is sent under an agreement and Pakistani law provides full protection to workers. The Federal Investigation Agency should be directed to investigate why these workers were allowed to go to Saudi Arabia without the companies' financial position being scrutinised," he said. He suggested that the funds for the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation should be used to help the stranded people because the foundation was funded by overseas Pakistanis but "does nothing other than build housing societies".