Those Who Hold Our Remittances, Hold Our Souls

In an edit page article in the Indian Express of today, Khaled Ahmed narrates how members of Gulf Cooperation Council, the countries where almost 3 million Pakistanis work to send home remittances worth about US$ 15 billion annually, blackmailed Pakistan to send its troops to fight their war in Yemen.

They threatened to expel the Pakistani workers. With almost 30 million (roughly 20% of Pakistani population)  people in Pakistan dependent on these remittances, resulting disruption Pakistan would have been very difficult to handle. Pakistan would have faced a Balance of Payment crisis also.

The poverty has one of its consequences as the loss of freedom to act, as for individuals, so for countries. It is the poverty of Pakistan that has made it vulnerable to blackmail.

This has a very timely warning for us also. As the National Green Tribunal, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Labour Ministry, and Tribal Affairs Ministry are killing Indian economy, more and more Indians are forced to work abroad, quite a few in the Gulfie Hellholes. They work there in slave like conditions, to send money to a country that forced them to emigrate by strangulating its own economy. As more and more Indians are forced out of India by the protectors of its Environment and its labour, India would become more and more dependent on remittances, and more vulnerable to blackmail, limiting its foreign policy options.



“Leading journalist and TV personality Najam Sethi wrote in The Friday Times: “Over 3 million Pakistanis work in these countries and remit over $11 billion a year to sustain nearly 30 million Pakistanis across the country. If these workers and their hard-earned monies were to be sanctioned by their hosts, angry Pakistanis would spill over into the streets against both the Arabs and their Pakistani ruling-class brothers. The economy would face a balance of payments crisis and the rupee would slide in parallel with forex reserves. Inflation would rise, hardship would follow and there would be fresh calls and agitation from the political parties for the ouster of the Sharif regime. Indeed, the very political parties that are insisting that Mr Sharif shouldrefuse troops to the Saudis and maintain ‘neutrality’ would be the first ones to demand his resignation when such a policy leads to an angry and hurtful response from the Saudis and Gulf sheikhs.”

Economist Sakib Sherani cautiously warned in Dawn: “There is a downside to the rising importance of this source of inflow. With worker remittances the equivalent of over 6 per cent of GDP, any disruption to the flow can have serious repercussions for the economy. This vulnerability is starkly demonstrated in the uncomfortable position Pakistan finds itself in with respect to the request for military help by Saudi Arabia in its offensive against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen. Worker remittances from the sixGulf Cooperation Council countries, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait andOman, amount to two-thirds of the total. If the potential ire of these countries is translated to the Pakistani emigrant workers, the pain of adopting ‘neutrality’ could be serious.”(from the article )

Read the whole article here.