ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office said on Wednesday Islamabad had repatriated 62 prisoners to Pakistan so they could celebrate Eid Al-Adha with their families, a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said a special flight had brought home Pakistani prisoners being held in Saudi jails.
The PM’s announcement came as the ministry of overseas Pakistanis said dozens of Pakistani prisoners had been released by the Saudi government ahead of the Eid Al-Adha holiday.
“On my instructions, funds were arranged & a special flight brought back 62 prisoners from KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] today, so they could be back with their families for Eid,” Khan said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Helping Pakistanis in prisons abroad & assisting in their return to Pakistan is my govt’s commitment to our people.”
On my instructions, funds were arranged & a special flight brought back 62 prisoners from KSA today, so they could be back with their families for Eid. Helping Pakistanis in prisons abroad & assisting in their return to Pakistan is my govt's commitment to our people.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 20, 2021
“In line with the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh had been in contact with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to coordinate early release and repatriation of those Pakistani nationals who are serving their sentences abroad for minor offenses,” the foreign office said on Eid day. “Upon Pakistan’s request, a high-powered committee of Saudi authorities carried out a detailed review of Pakistanis imprisoned in Riyadh region and waived off sentences of 85 individuals.”
“Upon waiver of sentences, the Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh closely liaised with the relevant Saudi authorities to secure exit visas of these released individuals,” the statement added. “As directed by the Prime Minister, we have so far repatriated 62 individuals out of total 85, so that they could celebrate Eid with their families in Pakistan. Remaining 23 will be repatriated as soon as their exit visa process is completed.”
The Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh is in the process of coordinating similar repatriation from other regions of Saudi Arabia as well, the foreign office said.
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said Saudi Arabia would release at least another 85 Pakistani prisoners on Eid Al-Adha, and a special plane would be dispatched to bring them back.
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 February 2019.
Since then, hundreds of Pakistani prisoners involved in petty crimes have been released as a goodwill gesture of the kingdom.