Nawaz Sharif resumes political activity after jail, chairs party CEC meeting

Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, center, arriving in court. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2018

Nawaz Sharif resumes political activity after jail, chairs party CEC meeting

  • Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders term party president Shehbaz Sharif’s arrest as political victimization.
  • Shehbaz Sharif was arrested on Oct. 5 in Ashiana Housing Scheme scam by the National Accountability Bureau.

ISLAMABAD: After spending several weeks in prison, Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, presided over his party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting in Lahore on Monday.
Sharif has kept a low profile in the country’s politics ever since he was released from a prison facility in Rawalpindi last month after an Islamabad High Court bench suspended his sentence in a corruption reference.
The CEC meeting was called on Sunday to assess the country’s political situation and devise a strategy in the wake of the arrest of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif.
The convention brought together leading luminaries of the party who took stock of the situation and took some important decisions.
Briefing a group of journalists after the meeting, former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah described his party president’s arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as “contempt of parliament” and “undemocratic.”
He claimed that the anti-corruption watchdog had no evidence against Shehbaz Sharif, adding: “This was an act of vengeance and an attempt to influence the outcome of the upcoming by-elections, just as the July 25 polls were manipulated through similar tactics.”
Discussing PML-N’s game plan, Sanaullah said: “The opposition has already requisitioned the national and Punjab assembly sessions. If the two assemblies do not convene tomorrow, we will start holding these sessions outside the parliament and Punjab Assembly buildings from Wednesday.”
He also hinted at the possibility of spreading these protests and “exposing such acts of vengeance,” if the government does not take the opposition seriously.
The former Punjab law minister said the CEC had taken some significant decisions and constituted various committees, though he refused to provide details and said the PML-N wanted to share them with other opposition factions first.
The veteran PML-N leader Senator Mushahidullah Khan rejected the speculation that Nawaz Sharif had been released from jail as a result of a covert deal, saying the former premier would have kept his office if he believed in striking deals.
Shehbaz Sharif, former chief minister of Punjab and incumbent leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, was arrested on Oct. 5 in the Ashiana Housing Scheme case.
The scandal involves the unfair award of government contracts worth billions of rupees by the provincial government upon his instructions when he was serving as the chief minister of the province.
PML-N leaders demanded in their news conference on Monday that their party president be allowed to make an appearance in the National Assembly and present his case to the august house and the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

Updated 14 November 2019

Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

  • New skills-based system to be launched from next month
  • Will include India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Starting next month, Saudi Arabia will introduce a new skilled foreign manpower program that will eventually include Pakistan, a senior official at the Saudi labor ministry said this week. 

Nayef Al-Omair, head of the vocational examination program at the Ministry of Labor, said on Tuesday in Riyadh that the ministry was categorizing the tasks and the structure of some professions for visa-issuing purposes.

Under the new policy, visas would be issued only after skill tests and the previous system would be gradually phased out. 

The new scheme would be optional for one year starting December 2019 after which it would become compulsory, Al-Omair said. The new program would first be applied to manpower recruited from India due to its large size in the Saudi market.

Eventually, the program will cover seven countries, including India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Workers belonging to these states constitute 95 percent of professional manpower in the Kingdom’s local market.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.6 million Pakistani expats those have been a vital source of foreign remittances.

Last year the country received $21.8 billion in remittances out of which $5 billion were remitted by Pakistani nationals working in Kingdom.

According to the Pakistani ministry of finance, there was a major decline in manpower export to Saudi Arabia where only 100,910 emigrants proceeded for employment in 2018 as compared to 2017, a drop of 42,453 emigrants.

However, Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, special assistant to the Pakistani prime minister on overseas Pakistanis, said in an interview earlier this month that Saudi Arabia had agreed to increase the share of the Pakistani labor force in the multi-billion dollar New Taif City development.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have formed working groups to develop procedures for this transfer of manpower. Pakistani groups will visit the Kingdom in the coming months to finalize arrangements.