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Senate panel calls for release of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails

By Jamal Shahid 2019-07-05
ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee on Thursday lamented that Pakistani prisoners were languishing in Saudi jails six months after Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman announced that they would be released.

The committee met for a briefing by the Foreign Of fice on the total number of Pakistani nationals jailed in Saudi Arabia due to non-payment of fines.

`The fact that not a single Pakistani prisoner has been released in these several months is quite disturbing.

The details of the prisoners have not been shared despite repeated reminders by the Pakistani government,` said chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar.

`We were all quite hope-ful and welcomed the news of Pakistani prisoners being released from Saudi prisons. We hope that the government will take up the matter at the highest level again with the Saudi government,` said the chairman.

During his visit in February this year, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman had announced that more than 2,000 Pakistani prisoners would be released af ter Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed him to the Prime Minister House. The PM made a `special request` to the crown prince to look into the hardship of Pakistani labourers working in the kingdom, and to `look upon them as your own people`.

In April, the opposition hadalsoexpressedconcern over delays in the release of Pakistani prisoners.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs` additional secre-tary Mohammad Nadeem Khan informed the committee that during his visit in May, Prime Minister Imran Khan had reminded Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman about the latter`s promise.

The of ficial claimed that the Pakistani government had repeatedly reminded the Saudi government.

`The standard response from the Saudi government is that they will start processing their release soon,` Mr Khan informed the members.

The official said that in Riyadh 114 Pakistanis were in prison due to nonpayment of fines. Similarly, another 128 were languishing in prisons in Jeddah.

The committee chairman directed both ministries of foreign affairs and human rights to establish a fund to assist repatriation of Pakistanis languishing in foreign prisons.