Overseas Pakistanis not facing issues in Saudi Arabia – Qureshi

In this file photo, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi looks on during a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the US State Department in Washington, DC on Oct. 2, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 02 November 2018

Overseas Pakistanis not facing issues in Saudi Arabia – Qureshi

  • Foreign minister rubbishes reports that several are stranded in the country
  • Says only those who had overstayed or indulged in illegal activities held back

ISLAMABAD: Dismissing reports that nationals residing in Saudi Arabia were facing problems in the country, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday that the reports were untrue.
In a written reply to questions about Pakistani expats in the Kingdom, Qureshi told the National Assembly: “Pakistanis employed in the Kingdom on proper work visas do not face problems pertaining to their work permits (Iqamas), outstanding dues etc,” adding that the Saudi was home to around 2.6 million Pakistani expats.
Qureshi added that only those Pakistanis who had overstayed, were involved in illegal activities or had traveled to GCC countries on a free visa faced problems. “In some cases, Pakistanis going on ‘Hajj and Umrah Visas’ to Saudi Arabia overstay and thus become liable for deportation by the Saudi authorities,” he said.
Earlier, Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, a lawmaker from the religious political alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, had asked the government whether any Pakistani workers were stranded in Saudi Arabia due to a nonpayment of salaries by their employers.
Qureshi explained to the house that Saudi Arabia was an oil-based economy and more than 70 percent of its budget was financed by the sector. Due to a slump in oil prices in the past, some projects were put on hold by the Saudi government.
He narrated the example of a construction company which had incurred a huge loss after several other companies defaulted due to an economic slump and failed to pay the wages to expatriates from various nationalities, which included 9,360 Pakistanis.
“The workers were stuck with expired visas and without salaries. The government of Pakistan, through our missions, facilitated the final exit and free tickets of 4,810 workers,” he said.
“We coordinated with different companies to relocate the workers and more than 4,548 were transferred to new employers within the Kingdom.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Saudi Arabia last week, where he participated in the Future Investment Initiative Conference. Foreign Minister Qureshi said that during the meeting with Khan, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “agreed to bring visa fee for Pakistani workers at par with the visa fee charged from Indian workers i.e. SR305.”
Qureshi added that there are around 3,000 Pakistani nationals detained in Saudi prisons and a majority of those are “unfortunately detained on drug-related charges.”

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

Updated 23 January 2021

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

  • South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players
  • The South African player beleives Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi can pose problems for his team

ISLAMABAD: South African cricketer Faf du Plessis believes spending months in a bio-secure bubble could soon become a major challenge for players.

“We understand that this is a very tough season and a tough challenge for a lot of people out there, but if it’s back-to-back-to-back bubble life, things would become a big challenge,” du Plessis said during a virtual news conference on Saturday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, cricketers have to adhere to strict procedures for an international series. In countries like Pakistan, international games are being played in empty stadiums and players' movement confined to just their hotel and stadiums.

Du Plessis is one of those South African cricketers, along with captain Quinton de Kock, to have experienced life in a bubble over the last few months. He played in the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates and home series against Sri Lanka. Now he has a two-test series in Pakistan, starting Tuesday in Karachi, followed by the second test at Rawalpindi.

“The main priority is to play cricket, to be out there doing what we love instead of being at home … so I think that still remains the most important thing. But I think there would definitely come a point where players would struggle with this (bubble)," du Plessis said.

“If you look at a calendar of the last eight months, you’re looking at about four or five months in a bubble, which is a lot. For some of us (being) without family, it can get challenging. Right now, I’m still in a good place. I’m still feeling really motivated and driven, but I can only speak for myself.

“I don’t think it’s possible to continue from bubble to bubble to bubble, I’ve seen and heard a lot of players talk about it. I don’t think it’s sustainable.”

The South African team practiced at the National Stadium -- the venue for the test opener -- for the first time on Saturday. Before that, the visitors had been practicing at a stadium close to the team hotel for the last four days where they played intra-squad matches.

“For now, (I'm) enjoying the four walls of my room and then the pitch outside where we can get to do what we love,” du Plessis said.

The 36-year-old du Plessis, who has appeared in 67 test matches for South Africa with a batting average topping 40, will be playing his first test in Pakistan since making his debut against Australia in 2012. Pakistan last hosted South Africa in 2007. In 2009 international cricket’s doors were shut on Pakistan after an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus at Lahore.

Du Plessis has played seven test matches against Pakistan that included two in the UAE and five in South Africa.

Du Plessis is South Africa’s most experienced player touring Pakistan, but wasn’t sure what type of wickets will be prepared for the two tests.

“I think that’s possibly the biggest thing that we are unsure about,” he said.

“As a team we try to prepare for everything and anything, overprepare, spin conditions, reverse swinging ball … if I have to call it, I probably said I think that wickets will be a bit more subcontinent like than it used to be back then (in 2007), so spinners would probably be more a little bit more in the game.”

Du Plessis has picked fit-again Pakistan all-format captain Babar Azam and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as the two players who could pose problems for the tourists. Babar has regained fitness from a fractured thumb — in his absence Pakistan lost both the Twenty20 and test series in New Zealand.

“Obviously, having Babar back is massive for them,” du Plessis said.

“Afridi has been getting a lot of wickets, so probably someone like him would be pretty dangerous.”