Arabia released 1,245 Pakistani prisoners from its jails this year while representatives
from Pakistan are in touch with the Saudi government for the release of
remaining prisoners, the prime minister’s special assistant on overseas
Pakistanis said on Thursday.
In February, Pakistan’s information ministry announced that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the release of about 2,100 Pakistani prisoners from the kingdom’s jails during a high-profile visit to Islamabad that month. The announcement came after a special request to the crown prince by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“Along with 1,245
prisoners released from Saudi jails, approximately 3,400 deported from Makkah,
Riyadh, Dammam, Tabuk and other Saudi cities have also been released from
deportation camps since the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman,”
Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari told Arab News in an interview in Islamabad.
According to an official count, more than 3,300 Pakistani prisoners are currently jailed in Saudi Arabia. Bukhari said in the last year, the government had succeeded in getting 2,559 Pakistani prisoners freed out of a total of 6,880 imprisoned in Gulf countries.
Giving a breakdown of the last 12 months, Bukhari said Pakistan had secured the release of 1,245 Pakistani prisoners out of 3,303 jailed in Saudi Arabia, 1,200 out of 2,521 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 55 out of 592 in Oman, 18 out of 118 in Kuwait, 17 out of 144 in Bahrain, 14 out of 106 in Qatar and 10 out of 96 in Iraq.
Most Pakistanis are in detention in the Gulf for forgery, drug trafficking, illegal border crossing, theft, pick pocketing and bribery. Most of those released had been sentenced to 1-5 years in prison.
Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari said that Saudi Arabia has agreed to a request by Pakistan for an increased share of the labor force in the multi-billion dollar New Taif City development.
“I asked the Saudi labor minister for a larger quota for Pakistani manpower in the New Taif City project,” he said
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have formed working groups to develop procedures for this transfer of manpower, added Bukhari, who will visit the Kingdom in the coming months to finalize the arrangements.
bukhari said that Pakistan will give top priority to its overseas nationals in
social protection projects and take inclusive steps to ensure their welfare.
“Around 10 million Pakistanis are residing in foreign countries and over 0.5
million go abroad every year for different job opportunities,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development (OP&HRD) would take every possible step to facilitate overseaals residents who were playing a pivotal role in strengthening the economy with sizeable remittances every year.
“Overseas remittances have increased from $19.914 billion to $21.842 billion in last one year which is an increase of 9.68 percent. It shows that people trust the system a little bit more, so we need to further increase those figures,” he said.