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.

Coronavirus enters Pakistan, two cases confirmed

Updated 26 February 2020

Coronavirus enters Pakistan, two cases confirmed

  • Both persons have recently traveled to Iran
  • Schools in Sindh and Balochistan have been temporarily closed over outbreak fears

KARACHI: Two coronavirus infections have been reported in Pakistan, both in persons who have recently arrived from Iran, with one of them confirmed to be a resident of Karachi in Sindh province, health officials said late Wednesday evening.
“One case has been reported in Sindh, whereas the second person tested positive in federal areas,” Health Minister Zafar Mirza said during a press conference in Quetta, Balochistan, and answered “maybe” when asked if he referred to Islamabad.
The persons have traveled to Iran in the past 14 days, Mirza said, adding that both are in stable condition.
The person in Sindh has been identified as a 22-year-old resident of Karachi and is already under quarantine.
The man “and other members of his family have been quarantined at a private hospital,” Meeran Yousuf, a spokesperson of the Sindh Health Department, told Arab News, adding that the patient arrived in Karachi on a flight from Mashhad on Feb. 20.
Meanwhile, isolation wards have been established at Karachi hospitals, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah told reporters. Schools in the province will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani announced on Wednesday night.
In Balochistan, which borders with Iran, all educational institutions have been temporarily closed until March 15 “as a precaution to protect children from the coronavirus,” the province’s education directorate announced in a circular on Wednesday.
Iran has the highest coronavirus toll outside of China, as the outbreak is spreading rapidly across the country.
Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Wednesday that 19 people have died from the illness, with 139 confirmed cases in the country. The World Health Organization says the virus has infected more than 80,000 people around the world, causing over 2,700 deaths, mainly in China.
Experts are concerned that Iran may be underreporting cases and deaths.