Islamabad—Federal Ombudsman Salman Faruqui took cognizance of the issue of stranded Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia and advised all the authorities concerned to take all necessary steps to ease the sufferings of Pakistani workers.
In pursuance of that Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmed Khokhar, Senior Advisor (Law), Grievance Commissioner for Overseas Pakistanis called a meeting of Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Overseas Pakistanis, Overseas Pakistanis Foundation and Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment to chalk out effective strategy to curb the situation and to help more than 13,000 workers of particularly three companies viz Sad Trading and Contracting Company, Saudi Ogre Ltd and Bin Ladan who were facing problem of erratic supply of food, non-renewal of resident permits, restricted movement and non-payment of their dues.
The Foreign Office and OPF submitted their reports that in pursuance of directions of the Prime Minister, the Pakistan Baitul Mal has started payment of Rs.50,000/- to the family of each affected Pakistani worker and till then about 6000 families have been paid the said amount and the Community Welfare Attaches and other Consular staff were in close contact with the affected workers and the Saudi authorities.
According to OPF legal aid was being provided to the workers and their accounts were being reconciled with the help of respective employers companies.
He also appreciated the efforts of the government departments for their steps to ease the conditions of distressed Pakistani workers.
Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmed Khokhar desired that documentation process regarding claims of the workers should be accelerated He said that Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Pakistan Mission, as stated in their report that if any affected Pakistani worker wishes to change the employer, he would be allowed without any fee or production of NOC from his present employer so that he may work in Saudi Arabia and look after his case for settlement of dues.
On the other hand if he wishes to come back to the country, he may be allowed to give power of attorney to the Embassy of Pakistan to look after his benefits.
Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmed emphasized that all efforts should be done to ensure that all outstanding salaries and dues would be cleared by the companies in the shortest possible time and each and every penny of the workers will be secured and returned to them.
He appreciated the steps taken by the Saudi King towards establishing a fund of 100 million Saudi Riyal to address the grievances of distressed workers by the companies, particularly those who have signed contracts with the government.
The next meeting on the subject will be held after two weeks and meanwhile all government Agencies have been advised to draft SOP in view of the findings of Ombudsman Secretariat to avoid such situation if future.