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.

Sacrifices decline by 28% to 5.8 million animals in Pakistan this Eid Al-Adha

Updated 05 August 2020

Sacrifices decline by 28% to 5.8 million animals in Pakistan this Eid Al-Adha

  • 8.1 million animals were sacrificed last year, national tanners association says 
  • Coronavirus lockdowns, movement restrictions and weakening purchasing power have caused decline

KARACHI: Pakistanis sacrificed around 5.8 million animals worth $1 billion on the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha this year, 28 percent lower than last year, data from the Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) shows, amid a coronavirus pandemic and economic contraction.
Pakistan this year banned open-air livestock markets inside cities for Eid Al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice,” to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Government social-distancing restrictions this year, including half-day closing, saw a drop in customers at the normally bustling markets which, like in other Muslim countries, are set up in urban centers ahead of one of Islam’s most important festivals.
Agha Saiddain, a senior PTA official, said 8.1 million animals were sacrificed last year, which dropped by 28 percent to 5.86 million animals, worth over Rs174 billion ($1 billion), this year. 
“The reason of the decline in animal sacrifices are coronavirus related lockdowns, movement restrictions and weakening purchasing power of the people,” the PTA official said. 
PTA data showed two million cows were sacrificed this year compared to three million last year and 3 million goats as compared to four million last year. Around 60,000 camels were slaughtered this year against 100,000 last year.
Eid businesses play an important role in the overall economy of Pakistan that has contracted by 0.4% for the first time in 68 years.

Tanners say despite the lower number of sacrifices, prices of skins and hides remained low this year because of lower export demand of finished products. The major export market for Pakistani leather products, including garments, is Europe while tanned leather is exported mainly to China. 

“The European markets are closed after the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Gulzar Feroz, an ex-PTA chairman. “Majority of tanneries are shutdown or working at 50 percent of their capacity in the absence of demand from Europe.”

Skins and hides of sacrificed animals provide around 30 percent of the raw material for the country’s leather exporting industry which is also suffering from declining production and exports. This year the price of cow hide was around Rs 450-500 as compared to Rs 900-1200 last year, according to tanners and exporters. 

“The raw material [skins and hides] purchased last year are not totally consumed; that is why the purchases were limited this year,” said Syed Shujaat Ali, chairman of the Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PLEGMEA). “The facility which would stock 100,000 hides could buy only 5000. If the main buyers are not purchasing, how will the prices soar?”

The export of leather products has declined by 9.4 percent to $765 million during the outgoing fiscal year FY20, data shows. A major decline of 27 percent was seen in the export of tanned leather while leather garments’ exports declined only slightly by two 2 percent, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.