All Pakistani inmates with completed terms sent home from Saudi: Envoy

A general view of Ha’er Prison in Saudi Arabia July 6, 2015. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 January 2020

All Pakistani inmates with completed terms sent home from Saudi: Envoy

  • Pakistan’s ambassador says perception that there were still a large number of Pakistanis languishing in Saudi jails was incorrect
  • 88 Pakistanis out of a total 1,848 in the consular jurisdiction of Riyadh released and repatriated in December 2019

ISLAMABAD: No Pakistani prisoners who have completed their jail terms remain behind bars in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s envoy to the Kingdom, Raja Ali Ejaz, said on Sunday.

According to a document provided to Arab News by Pakistan’s embassy in Riyadh, 88 Pakistani prisoners out of a total 1,848 in the consular jurisdiction of Riyadh were released and repatriated in December 2019. Now 1,760 Pakistanis are imprisoned in Saudi jails.

“All Pakistani prisoners in consular jurisdiction Riyadh who had completed their sentences till December 31, 2019, have been released and repatriated to Pakistan,’ the ambassador said via telephone from Riyadh. “Saudi Authorities are coordinating and cooperating with us, due to which many prisoners were released even ahead of the completion of their term.”

Ejaz said the perception that there were still many Pakistanis languishing in Saudi jails was incorrect. “There is a very large Pakistani community, of around 2.6 million people, that resides in Saudi Arabia, out of which around 3,000 prisoners is not as big a number as propagated.”

“The embassy has devised a procedure with the help of the Saudi government to provide advance information to the host government every month from July 2019 onwards,” Ejaz said. “The (Pakistani) mission shared the names and identity particulars of Pakistani prisoners expected to be released during the following month,” he added. The division of the Kingdom into two consular jurisdictions, one in Riyadh and the other in Jeddah, had also made the process more seamless, the envoy said.

The Pakistani envoy said these steps helped the embassy maintain up-to-date data of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails while ensuring timely repatriation and releases.

In February 2019, Pakistan’s Information Ministry announced that Saudi 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. In September last year, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia had released 579 Pakistani prisoners in line with the crown prince’s announcement.


UN chief visits Kartarpur Corridor, terms it 'symbol of peace'

Updated 47 min 21 sec ago

UN chief visits Kartarpur Corridor, terms it 'symbol of peace'

  • Guterres says the visit pays tribute to the contribution of Sikh community all over the world
  • He arrived in Pakistan to attend a UN summit on Afghan refugees

ISLAMABAD: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday visited Pakistan’s flagship interfaith initiative, the Kartarpur Corridor, and paid homage to Guru Nanak who founded Sikhism five centuries ago.
“This is the best symbol that we can give for a world in peace and for a world (where) there is mutual respect and acceptance of what is different,” the UN Chief said while addressing a pool of journalists and officials.
Opened last year, the four-kilometer Kartarpur Corridor connects the Sikh shrine of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in India’s Punjab region to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan. It allows Sikhs to visit the shrine in Pakistan without a visa. Some 5,000 Indian Sikhs have been allowed access daily.
“Recognizing the diversity is a blessing, is a richness not a threat which we see in so many parts of the world fighting in the name of religion. It is necessary to say that religions unite us for peace and the best symbol is this shrine,” Guterres said, adding that his visit was “to pay tribute to the contribution of the Sikh community all over the world for our planet.”
Guterres was given a tour of the gurdwara complex by a team of government officials led by Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri.
The UN Chief arrived in Islamabad on Sunday as part of his four-day visit to the country to attend an international conference on Afghan refugees, held to mark four decades since Pakistan started hosting displaced persons escaping conflict plaguing neighboring Afghanistan.