ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs will next week take up a number of important issues, including the progress on the implementation of the promise made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman regarding the release of Pakistani prisoners from jails in Saudi Arabia.
According to the agenda issued by the National Assembly Secretariat for the two-day meeting of the committee starting from May 14, the members will also discuss the status of Pakistani prisoners languishing in jails of other countries and legal support being provided to them by the Foreign Office.
The opposition parties have been expressing concern over delay in the release of over 2,100 Pakistani prisoners as promised by the Saudi crown prince during his visit to Pakistan in February and some of the members raised the issue on the floor of the National Assembly as well.
The Saudi crown prince had ordered the immediate release of over 2,100 Pakistani prisoners a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed him to the Prime Minister’s House and made a “special request” for him to look into the hardships of Pakistani labourers working in the Kingdom, and to “look upon them as your own people”.
Last month, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz had stated that the process of releasing Pakistani prisoners from Saudi jails was under way and the nation might receive “good news” in the holy month of Ramazan.
During the current session of the National Assembly, PML-N MNA from Bahawalpur Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada had expressed his concerns over the delay in the release of the prisoners and claimed that he could give examples of Pakistanis in Saudi prisons who had completed their terms but still remained behind bars.
Parliamentary Secretary for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Javaria Zafar Aheer had told the house that her office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were working together and the release of Pakistani prisoners was “under way”. She had informed the house that a total of 3,400 Pakistanis were imprisoned in jails in Saudi Arabia.
Responding to a question from MNA Syed Agha Rafiullah about the number of Pakistanis imprisoned in India and the steps the government is taking for their release, the foreign affairs minister in a written reply had stated that there were 585 prisoners — 375 civilians and 210 fishermen — detained in Indian jails.
Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2019