Pakistanis pay price as Islamabad joins Turkey-Iran-Malaysia bloc

Pakistanis pay price as Islamabad joins Turkey-Iran-Malaysia bloc

UAE blocks key source of income as it refuses to issue work visas to Pakistanis

KARACHI — Pakistan’s overseas laborers are paying the price for one of their government’s foreign policy decisions now that the United Arab Emirates has banned them from receiving work visas. Islamabad lost favor with Gulf states after it tried to align itself with a Turkey-Iran-Malaysia bloc challenging Saudi Arabia’s leadership of the Muslim world.

The UAE last month temporarily banned the citizens of 13 Muslim majority countries, including Pakistan, from receiving work and visit visas. At the time, it was speculated that the ban was a measure to help prevent the coronavirus’s spread.

COVID-19 data from World Health Organization now throws this into question.

Per WHO, Pakistan had 1,813 COVID-19 cases per 1 million people at the end of November. In India, the number was 6,883. Still, Pakistanis, not Indians, were barred from receiving UAE visas. Local reports have since put the ban down to unspecified security concerns.

About 1.3 million laborers from Pakistan have found jobs in the UAE during the past five years. In October, a month before the visa ban, Pakistan received of $2.28 billion in remittances from its overseas workers, $504 million of which came from the UAE, the second-largest source, after Saudi Arabia.