579 Pakistani prisoners released in Saudi Arabia

Updated October 11, 2019

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A parliamentary body was informed on Thursday that 579 Pakistani prisoners had been released in Saudi Arabia under royal clemency. — AFP/File
A parliamentary body was informed on Thursday that 579 Pakistani prisoners had been released in Saudi Arabia under royal clemency. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body was informed on Thursday that 579 Pakistani prisoners had been released in Saudi Arabia under royal clemency.

“Representatives from relevant offices in Pakistan are in touch with the Saudi government over the release of prisoners,” Dr Amir Sheikh, managing director of the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, said.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development was provided details of the prisoners released for analysis by its members when it met here.

According to officials, Pakistani work force lacks professionalism needed for jobs abroad

Most of the prisoners were under detention for forgery, drug trafficking, illegal border crossing, theft, picking pockets and bribery. One person was involved in a case of rape. Most, out of the 579 released, were sentenced to one year to five years in prison for drug trafficking and committing forgeries.

Besides the 579 prisoners, another 3,396 deported from Makkah, Riyadh, Dammam, Tabuk and Jouf to mention some cities, have also been released from the deportation camps since the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman earlier this year.

The Saudi crown prince had announced the release of more than 2,000 Pakistani prisoners at the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan during the latter’s visit to the kingdom in February.

The committee also took up the matter of sending more Pakistani labour force abroad.

Kashif Noor, managing director of the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment which works under the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, said that Pakistan faced numerous problems with regards to sending its labour force abroad.

Some 16 countries are in need of labour force, both skilled and non-skilled, in manufacturing, fisheries, agriculture and services sectors.

“However, Pakistani work force lacks professionalism and has low level of interpersonal skills among human resource. They are invariably late. They take long prayer breaks. Pakistani work force needs a change in attitude if it has to compete with that from other countries,” Mr Noor told the committee members.

Low skill levels of Pakistani human resource and availability of cheap labour in international markets are serious concerns.

Many countries in the Middle East have changed their policies and they now give preference to their own citizens over the imported workforce, he said, adding that all developing counties were taking a hit in the aftermath of new polices.

Nonetheless, South Korea has demanded labour force and professional manpower. “South Korea pays workforce from $1,500 to $2,000. More than 8,500 workers have been sent to South Korea for employments who are now contributing through foreign remittances,” the official told the members.

Similarly, the United Kingdom has demanded qualified nurses and is offering 2,500 pounds.

“The only problem is that the nurses fail their English language test. In over two years, only two nurses could score seven bands in the English language test which is mandatory for workforce to be accepted for vacancies in the UK,” the official said.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2019