Pakistan insists on Qatar World Cup workers’ rights

This file photo shows construction work at the Al-Wakrah Stadium (Al-Janoub Stadium), a World Cup venue designed by celebrated Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, some 15 kilometers on the outskirts of the Qatari capital Doha on Feb. 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2019

Pakistan insists on Qatar World Cup workers’ rights

  • Qatari plans to offer Pakistan up to 100,000 work permits
  • Amnesty International has warned Qatar against exploitation of tens of thousands of migrant laborers

BRUSSELS: Pakistan will insist on proper labor rights for an army of its citizens working on Qatar’s football World Cup infrastructure, the country’s foreign minister said Monday, after repeated reports of abuses.
The gas-rich Gulf state has embarked on a huge construction program to get ready for the 2022 tournament, drawing intense scrutiny from rights and labor campaigners.
Earlier this year Amnesty International warned that despite “nascent reforms,” Qatar was running out of time to stamp out widespread and serious exploitation of tens of thousands of migrant laborers, many of them from South Asia.
There have been reports of wages going unpaid, passports being held by unscrupulous bosses and some laborers working up to 148 days in a row.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi welcomed Qatar’s plans to offer his countrymen up to 100,000 work permits but insisted World Cup workers’ rights must be respected.
“Certainly we will ask our embassy and we will ask the recruiting agencies to give better terms,” he told AFP during a visit to Brussels.
“Where we feel Pakistani labor is contributing, we feel they should be looked after as well.”
Qatar insists it is committed to labor reform.
Since it was chosen as World Cup host it has introduced a monthly minimum wage of 750 riyals ($206) and partially scrapped the exit visa system which required workers to obtain their employers’ permission before leaving the country.
Qureshi welcomed the changes but said Pakistan would push for more.
“I think other facilities like health cover and stuff like that can be negotiated and we will talk with them about that,” he said.
Qureshi’s trip to Brussels comes as cash-strapped Pakistan seeks foreign investment, with the government forced to announce an austerity budget after securing a $6 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
After talks with senior EU officials on Tuesday, the minister will sign a “strategic engagement plan” with the bloc’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.  


Pakistani jailed for Dutch anti-Islam MP murder plot

Updated 18 November 2019

Pakistani jailed for Dutch anti-Islam MP murder plot

  • A Dutch court found the 27-year-old guilty of ‘planning a murder with a terrorist motive’
  • The judge added four years in jail to the six years sought by the prosecution

THE HAGUE: A Dutch court sentenced a Pakistani man to 10 years behind bars Monday for planning to assassinate a politician Geert Wilders after the MP announced an anti-Islam cartoon competition.
The man, identified as Junaid I. by local media, was arrested in August 2018 at a train station in The Hague after he posted a film on Facebook in which he said he wanted to “send Wilders to hell” and urged others to help.
Judges at The Hague’s district court found the 27-year-old man, who had traveled from France, guilty of “planning a murder with a terrorist motive” and “incitement to commit a terrorist deed.”
“The suspect more than once said that Wilders’ death would be a good deed,” said presiding judge Jan van Steen, who added four years in jail to the six years sought by the prosecution.
“Furthermore, the suspect wanted to commit the murder in one of the parliamentary buildings, the heart of Dutch democracy,” Van Steen said, adding “the court is alarmed that the suspect... declared that this case will boost his image in Pakistan.”
The suspect had denied any terror-related motives.
He said during the trial that he was “peace-loving” and had only traveled to the Netherlands from France to protest against Wilders’ cartoon competition.
The Facebook video was seen by more than 153,000 people and shared 14,000 times.
Far-right leader Wilders canceled his plans two days later to stage a cartoon competition against the Prophet of Islam, a move that angered many Muslims, particularly in Pakistan where protests were led by the hard-line Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party.
Wilders, 56, known for his peroxide bouffant hairdo and firebrand anti-immigration and anti-Islamist statements, lives in a safe house and has been granted 24-hour protection by the Dutch state.
The court did not say how Junaid I. planned to kill Wilders but found that in a bugged phone call after his arrest he said he took “specific things with him... without which his mission would not be complete.”
He had also walked round with a “large backpack, which he did not have when he was arrested” and lied about what it contained, the judges said.
A day after Wilders announced the cancelation, an Afghan man stabbed two American tourists at Amsterdam’s main train station. The man, who said he wanted to “protect the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” was last month sentenced to 26 years in jail.