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.

Pakistan to open border for stranded Afghan nationals

Updated 30 min 50 sec ago

Pakistan to open border for stranded Afghan nationals

  • On Kabul’s request, the border crossings will briefly reopen from April 6 to 9
  • Pakistan sealed its border with Afghanistan on March 16 following the Covid-19 outbreak

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan announced on Saturday it would briefly reopen its borders with Afghanistan to allow stranded Afghan nationals to return home, the foreign office said.
On March 16, the coronavirus outbreak prompted Pakistan to seal borders with its neighbors as part of stringent containment measures against Covid-19. The border closure affected huge numbers of Afghans in Pakistan for various reasons including trade, visiting families and seeking better medical treatments-- all of who were abruptly stranded.
But next week, at Kabul’s special request, Torkham and Chaman land border crossings with Afghanistan will be opened “for a specific period” between April 6 to 9 to facilitate Afghan nationals, the FO statement said.
“At the special request of the Government of Afghanistan and based on humanitarian considerations, Pakistan has decided to allow the exit of Afghan nationals in Pakistan wishing to go back to their country,” the FO statement read.
According to the latest tally from both countries, five people have died from coronavirus in Afghanistan and 270 have tested positive so far. In Pakistan, confirmed cases crossed 2,700 on Saturday with 41 reported deaths from the disease.
The foreign ministry added that as a neighbor and in view of fraternal bilateral relations, Pakistan remained “in abiding solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, particularly at this time of global pandemic.”
Earlier on March 20, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan allowed Chaman border to open briefly, to facilitate the flow of foodstuff and perishable commodities to Afghanistan.