ISLAMABAD - Gone are the days when Pakistan had capacity of only a handful of trained labour force to export them to foreign countries, especially for serving the multinational companies. Now, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis is on fast track to produce skilled labourers to send them abroad to ensure healthy foreign exchange.

Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, first time in the history of Pakistan, exported 211734 skilled labourers to foreign countries in first four months of 2012. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan has been exporting 150,000 to 200,000 skilled & unskilled labourers annually. However, first time in the history of country, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis trained and exported over 0.2 million labourers in first four months (Jan-April) of current year.

According to data obtained by The Nation, Ministry of OPF exported a total of 211734 labourers (skilled & unskilled) abroad during first four months of 2012. 114941 labourers were sent to Saudi Arabia, 61711 to United Arab Emirates, 24689 to Oman, 3904 to Bahrain while Qatar received 3098 labourers from Pakistan until April 30, 2012.

Senior officials of Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis were optimistic to export 300,000 more labourers abroad until December 2012.

“We are trying to utilize our resources to produce high quality skilled labour force to export it abroad. Besides, we are trying to explore new markets as well. We must know that remittances from Pakistani expatriates contributed a lot to country’s economy. And I assure you, Ministry of OPF will leave no stone unturned to facilitate Overseas Pakistanis in every possible way,” federal secretary Ashraf Nadeem told TheNation when contacted on Thursday.

On contributions Ashraf nadeem, an Islamabad-based diplomat, hailing from a Middle East country, said that it was he (Nadeem Ashraf) who convinced the heads of top multinational companies to get skilled labour from Pakistan. The companies were considering importing the labour from India otherwise, he said.

It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan has the highest growth of remittances in the world. Nearly 5 million Pakistani emigrants make up the world’s 7th largest Diaspora, according to the World Bank Factbook 2011. Adding the foreign-born children of these Pakistani emigrants pushes the total figure up to about 7 million.

Higher officials of Ministry of OPF said that an agreement has been signed with Saudi Arabia for the establishment of a technical institute in 13 cities. These institutions would impart education to around 400 students, besides jobs provision by the Saudi government.

Interestingly, the majority of the worker force being exported hails from Punjab and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Workers from Sindh and Balochistan do not take interest to go abroad.

Overseas Pakistani workers remitted $ 7.436 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal year 2011-12 (FY12), showing an impressive growth of 21.54 percent over same period last year.