Is Saudi Arabia deporting Pakistani expats?

Some reports claim that Saudi Arabia is not happy after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Malaysia and Turkish President’s recent visit to Pakistan. Will this lead the Kingdom in deporting Pakistani expats?

Saudi Arabia

The Foreign Office on Saturday reassured the Pakistani community that Saudi Arabia was neither holding nor deporting Pakistani expatriates across the Makkah region. It also rubbished the earlier reports circulating on social media, claiming Pakistanis working in the Kingdom may be forced to leave.

The Foreign Office in its statement urged the Pakistani community in the Kingdom to remain calm and not pay attention to a fabricated social media campaign. “The Consulate General in Jeddah has been in contact with the relevant Saudi authorities and they have been informed that routinely illegal expatriates are apprehended and deported from all nationalities. The exercise continues with varying intensity throughout the year”, the Foreign Office said while quoting a statement from the Consulate General.

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The statement also rejected the impression being created by certain media houses. “The assumption that it is a Pakistan specific drive is completely incorrect. Propagation of such news through the social media has created unnecessary anxiety, giving it a misleading political angle,” the statement said, adding that it was in the interest of the deep-rooted Pak-Saudi brotherly relations that such baseless and irresponsible twist was avoided at all costs.

The drive which was initiated last week has been mainly focusing on the expatriates without Iqama or expired Iqama, illegal workers, and those working not in their place of Iqama or out of the declared profession, according to the consulate.

“In this connection, around 400 Pakistanis have been brought to the Shumaisi Deportation Centre near Makkah over the last three days”, clarified the statement.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are in constant contact and the Consulate General of Pakistan is taking all possible measures, within local rules and regulations, to protect the interests of the Pakistani community.

It is worth noting that as many as 579 Pakistani prisoners have been released from jails of Saudi Arabia since Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s visit to Islamabad last year.

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During his visit to Pakistan in February, the crown prince had announced to release 2,000 Pakistani prisoners as a goodwill gesture on the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Prince Mohammad for his announcement of releasing Pakistani prisoners from Saudi jails with immediate effect.

“I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Pakistan” for announcing the release of Pakistani prisoners,” the premier said when MBS was in Pakistan. “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman won the hearts of the people of Pakistan when he said, “consider me Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia”.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqi recently said the Pakistani embassy was in touch with the Saudi authorities over the release of the prisoners from Saudi jails. She said additional 1,500 prisoners had also been released by Saudi authorities under clemency or completion of their sentences, other than those being released under an amnesty announced by the crown prince.

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Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial relations. There was an impression as if the Kingdom may not like the recent visit of the Turkish president to Pakistan. However, sources close to FO told GVS that this is not the case. “Everything is going very well. Some international media outlets are deliberately misinforming the world,” he said.

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