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Pak prisoners in KSA

The signing of the bills by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s (KSA’s) cabinet regarding human, drug trafficking and streamlining the transfer of prisoners gives hope for easing lives of many Pakistani prisoners. The treaty on prisoner transfer will allow individuals convicted in Saudi Arabia to complete their jail terms at home. An increased number of Pakistanis have featured on the lists of crimes in Saudi Arabia in recent times. Independent research bodies have quoted that the number of prisoners is much higher. Saudi Arabia has a history of deporting most Pakistanis. Overstaying visas, lost passports, passport retained by Kafeel (visa sponsors or employers), illegal immigration, entry refused, and other illegal entries are the most common reasons for which these people are being sent back home by the Saudi authorities. The deportations are also being made for “violating the rules of residence and work”.

The involvement of several Pakistani nationals in illegal activities and crimes of drug trafficking, thefts, forgery and physical assault are also major reasons for their deportation. Due to these reasons, Pakistanis are thoroughly scrutinized before they are recruited for work in the Kingdom. However, this calls for closer coordination between the concerned authorities in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to thoroughly check those coming to work in the Kingdom.

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Most of Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia are doing blue-collared jobs that do not require muck skill set. Moreover, the Kingdom is also the largest source of foreign remittances for Pakistan. Due to the lack of economic opportunities back home, a lot of cases have been witnessed where people had over-stayed following their visit to the Kingdom for religious duties of visiting the Holy Cities.

Considering approximately two million Pakistanis are working in the Kingdom, it is the responsibility of Pakistan’s foreign mission in the Kingdom to make necessary arrangements to check if anyone needs any legal help or if the employers are mistreating anyone. Thousands of Pakistanis had complained of embassy’s inaction following massive layoffs last year. The attitude of the embassy staffers should change, and all possible help should be provided to the people affected.

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