‘Time to get freedom from slavery’ is the title of a campaign launched by the a human rights webpage AVAAZ.org that is meant to ask the Pakistani government to prevail upon Qatar, to improve working and living conditions of Pakistani contractual workers, some of whom have already died, under the cruel sun unprotected in more than 46 Celsius heat and from unattended health problems and other reasons. Up to 4000 Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshi work under slave-like conditions. They are victims of Qatari callousness and many have died while their passports are withheld by the employers and dead bodies waiting to be returned to Pakistan and the families. All this is going on in Qatar, a tiny kingdom with a small population that has a large number of expatriates who work there. Qataris are the richest in oil and gas and they use this money to bribe the ‘International Football Association’ to bring the next world championship of football to Qatar. A lot of noise has been made in Europe about this decision, to have a championship in a country where temperatures are expected to go up to fifty degrees Celsius during the time of the event.

So far not much attention has been paid to the working conditions of not only Pakistanis, but Indians, Bangladeshis and other nationals who are cruelly exploited and are reported to die like flies under the merciless working conditions. AVAAZ.org is reporting that the Pakistani ambassador in Qatar, Shahzad Ahmad signed the petition. Staying in Doha, he must have observed the situation first hand. There is a need for Pakistani government to take up this problem with Qatar and fight for the lives and interests of Pakistanis trapped in Qatar.

ALI ASHRAF KHAN,

Karachi, February 26.