PM’s adviser on overseas Pakistanis on first visit to UAE since COVID-19 outbreak

In this file photo, foreign workers clad in mask due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic walk pushing bicycles along a street in the Satwa district of Dubai on May 6, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 22 July 2020

PM’s adviser on overseas Pakistanis on first visit to UAE since COVID-19 outbreak

  • Bukhari is scheduled to meet with the UAE labor minister to discuss the situation of Pakistani workforce in the Gulf state
  • UAE is the second biggest host to overseas Pakistani workers and source of foreign remittances, after Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: The prime minister’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis, Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, is leaving for the UAE on Wednesday to discuss with Emirati officials the situation of Pakistani workers on the labor market as the Gulf state’s economy is emerging from a coronavirus standstill. 
Thousands of Pakistani expats lost their jobs amid COVID-19 lockdowns and business closures in the Gulf state. During his first visit since the recent reopening of the UAE’s airspace, Bukhari is expected to meet with the Emirati labor minister to discuss the issue.
“UAE is one of the two largest labor markets for Pakistani workers. The meeting is expected to highlight issues faced by Pakistani labor generally and specially during COVID-19,” Bukhari’s office said in a statement.
He will also meet with members of the Pakistani diaspora, especially those whose philanthropic activity helped compatriots in the UAE stay afloat amid the health and economic crisis.
“The donors contributed thousands of dollars in cash and kind to help their countrymen in need,” the statement said, adding that Bukhari will express gratitude to them on behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The UAE is home to 1.2 million Pakistanis and the second biggest host to overseas Pakistani workers and source of foreign remittances, after Saudi Arabia.


Pakistan thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting it in 'difficult times'

Updated 11 August 2020

Pakistan thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting it in 'difficult times'

  • Minister Shibli Faraz says the country cannot run independent foreign policy until it gains economic strength
  • Claims Pakistan’s economy has improved in the last two years due to the government’s prudent policies

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz thanked Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for always rescuing his country in difficult times while dismissing rumors of any differences between the two countries.
“Saudi Arabia has always been with us and we are thankful to them,” the minister said while briefing reporters here in Islamabad on various decisions made during the federal cabinet meeting earlier in the day that was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The minister said the Kingdom was a brotherly country that had “always stood by us in difficult times.”
He said that a lot of Pakistani labor was working in the Kingdom, adding that the two holiest sites of Islam were also located in the same country.
To a question about the reported return of $1 billion to Saudi Arabia, he said that the money taken as a loan. “It was taken and returned. This is not in our interest to link it [the loan issue] to other things,” he said.
Saudi Arabia extended a $6.2 billion financial package, including $3 billion cash as a soft loan and $3.2 billion of deferred oil payment facility, to Pakistan in November 2018 to help the country stave off its balance of payments crisis.
The minister said that the world was moving toward readjustment as the world order was changing, especially in the last few years.
Faraz said that like every other country, “Pakistan as a sovereign state will work in the direction and pursue objectives that reinforce its national interests.”
He also added that the country could not run an independent foreign policy without acquiring adequate economic strength.
Talking about the government’s economic achievements in the last two years, he said that Pakistan’s current account deficit was brought down from $20 billion to $3 billion while the central bank’s reserves had increased from $8.5 billion to $12.5 billion due to prudent economic policies.
The minister informed that sales of cement, fertilizers, diesel and petrol had increased many times in the last two years, reflecting an improvement of the country’s fragile economy.
He noted that the coronavirus pandemic had not hit the country’s economy as hard as other countries in the region.
“The economic revival has started … Difficult times have almost passed and better days are right ahead of us,” the minister claimed.