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Saudi Arabia to release 1,100 prisoners, reveals Interior Minister

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has said 1,100 prisoners in Saudi Arabia jails will return to Pakistan soon after agreements were reached with Saudi Arabia during Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to the Kingdom over the weekend.

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Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has said 1,100 prisoners in Saudi Arabia jails will return to Pakistan soon after agreements were reached with Saudi Arabia during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the Kingdom over the weekend.

Rashid said that Saudi Arabia is also ready for the return of Pakistanis imprisoned for serious crimes. The interior minister was speaking to a private TV channel.

These prisoners have already served a large part of their sentence.

He said that if Rs1 billion of aid is received, hundreds of more prisoners who have to pay small fines can be released from Saudi jails, but serious cases will be dealt with separately.

The whole process of return of prisoners has been completed, Rashid said, adding that 30 Pakistanis are imprisoned for murder and drug offences and cannot be released.

These 30 Pakistani prisoners have been sentenced to death by a Saudi court, he said.

Notably, in 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan at a ceremony held to welcome the crown prince at PM House had made a “special request” to MBS to look into the hardships of Pakistani labourers working in the kingdom, and to “look upon them as your own people”.

“There are some 3,000 [Pakistani] prisoners there and we just would like you to bear in mind that they are poor people who have left their families behind,” Khan had said.

MBS had responded by assuring the premier to consider him Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Prince Mohammad had continued: “We cannot say no to Pakistan … whatever we can do, we will deliver that.”

The foreign minister said the people of Pakistan thanked the crown prince for “responding immediately” to the premier’s request.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia sign prison transfer deal

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement on the transfer of convicted prisoners during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s three-day visit to Saudi Arabia.

The two countries also signed memoranda of understanding on the establishment of the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC), combating illicit traffic in drugs, financing of projects in energy, hydropower generation, infrastructure, transport and communication, and water resource development; and also inked a cooperation agreement in combating crimes.

Read more: Islamophobia: A fungible prop for Muslim religious soft power

The announcement was made in a joint statement released late on Saturday during the visit of the premier from Friday to Sunday.

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