ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has requested Chief Justice Saqib Nisar to take a suo motu notice over what it called the government’s “silence” on the “miserable” working conditions of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia.

According to the party’s spokesman, PTI MNA Murad Saeed wrote a letter to the chief justice seeking his attention on the issue. “Kindly issue directives to safeguard the rights and better future of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia,” the PTI leader asked Justice Nisar.

In the letter, Mr Saeed claimed that thousands of Pakistanis were working in Saudi Arabia in a miserable condition, but Pakistani authorities were paying no heed to them. “Due to the negligence of our government, the condition of overseas Pakistanis is going from bad to worse,” he said.

On the other hand, the Indian government has finalised a Labour Protection Agreement (LPA) to be signed with Saudi authorities for protecting the rights of Indian nationals working in Saudi Arabia.

“It is ironic that our government was least interested in providing legal and consultative service to Pakistani immigrants in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The PTI leader claimed that the foreign ministry did not have actual data or the number of Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia.

He claimed that over 1,000 Pakistanis were languishing in Saudi prisons and no efforts were being made by the authorities in Pakistan to take up the issue with the Saudi government.

According to Mr Saeed, a number of Pakistanis had lost their iqama (work permits) and other documents which meant that they could not work and move around freely in Saudi Arabia. He said that many people also faced problems like illegal cuts in their salaries and misbehaving employers.

He added that on complaints made by Saudi employers, names of many Pakistani labourers had been put on Saudi Arabia’s exit control list, barring them from returning home.

The PTI leader said that he had raised the issue at relevant forums, including the parliament, many times but nothing was done.

“Therefore, I request you to take stern notice of the pathetic working conditions of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia and bestow the complaint a status of constitutional petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution,” he added.

The complainant also asked the apex court to direct the authorities concerned to come up with details of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2018