Saudi crackdown over Iqama misuse not Pakistan-specific: FO

Updated February 16, 2020

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“Around 400 Pakistanis have been brought to Shumaisi Deportation Centre near Makkah over the last three days,” a statement from the consulate, which was shared here by the Foreign Office, said.
— Suhail Yusuf/dawn.com/File
“Around 400 Pakistanis have been brought to Shumaisi Deportation Centre near Makkah over the last three days,” a statement from the consulate, which was shared here by the Foreign Office, said. — Suhail Yusuf/dawn.com/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s consulate general in Jeddah on Saturday said that around 400 Pakistanis had been detained for deportation by the Saudi authorities, but denied that the crackdown against illegal workers was Pakistan specific.

“Around 400 Pakistanis have been brought to Shumaisi Deportation Centre near Makkah over the last three days,” a statement from the consulate, which was shared here by the Foreign Office, said.

The statement was issued in response to reports, mostly on social media, that thousands of Pakistani workers were detained and deported over the past few days. It was also being speculated that the action by the Saudi authorities was a reaction to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Kuala Lumpur and his statement there in which he, while explaining his no-show at the KL Summit, said that he had missed the event because some countries “close to Pakistan” had believed it would divide the Ummah and promised to attend the next edition.

“The assumption that it is a Pakistan-specific drive is completely incorrect. … Certain social media sections are also giving it a misleading political angle. It is in the interest of the deep-rooted Pak-Saudi brotherly relations that such baseless and irresponsible twist is avoided at all costs,” it said.

The consulate explained that the drive had been initiated almost a week ago against expatriates without ‘Iqama’ or those with expired ‘Iqama’, the ones not working at the place of their ‘Iqama’ or declared profession, or other illegal ones.

It further said that the campaign against illegal workers of all nationalities continued throughout the year with varying intensity.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020