Pakistan to ship 200,000 workers to Qatar ahead of 2022 World Cup

23 July 2015

Initiative comes amid criticism of Qatar’s failure to improve worker rights

  • The scheme is expected to generate annual remittances worth $590m
  • Workers will start to arrive in Qatar before the end of July 2015
  • Some 90,000 Pakistanis were living in Qatar in 2013

Pakistani authorities are training 200,000 nationals with the aim of sending them to work in Qatar, helping to build the Gulf nation’s World Cup infrastructure ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

The initiative was announced by Pakistan’s Provincial Labour Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, who told Pakistani media that the initiative would give workers vocational training, vaccinations, security clearance and English lessons.

Speaking to the local news outlet Pakistan Today Raja Ashfaq Sarwar said that sending skilled and semi-skilled workers to Qatar will provide a boost to Pakistan’s economy.

“Government in collaboration with private sector will train these skilled and semi-skilled workers who will bring foreign exchange of more than 60 billion rupees ($590m) annually to Pakistan that will also raise the standard of living of their families,” he said.

The first batch of workers will leave Pakistan by the end of July 2015, according to Sarwar.

In 2013 90,000 Pakistanis were living in Qatar, making up 3.9 per cent of the country’s population.

Indians made up 23.5 per cent of Qatar’s population, while 278,000 native Qataris made up 12.0 per cent of the population.

If the new Pakistani initiative is successful it could triple Qatar’s Pakistani population.

The initiative comes amid mounting criticism of Qatar’s kafala sponsorship system, which is used to monitor migrant workers, and has been likened to a form of modern-day slavery by the International Trade Union Confederation.

Under the system, Qatari nationals earn money by sponsoring migrant workers and have the power to prevent employees from changing jobs or leaving the country.

Though human rights groups have criticised Qatar for its failure to reform the system Qatari jobs remain an important source of remittances for nations like India, Nepal and Pakistan.

The latest announcement from Pakistan comes after talks in March between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani about allowing more Pakistani workers into Qatar.

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