ISLAMABAD, Dec 31: More than 4,000 Pakistanis are languishing in various prisons in Middle Eastern countries, according to information presented in National Assembly.

In Saudi Arabia alone, 1,783 Pakistanis living in jails face charges ranging from narcotics smuggling and murder to fraud and theft.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Amad Khan told the assembly on Friday that in most of the cases the government was unable to provide assistance to the prisoners.

“Pakistan has reciprocal agreements with the UK, Sri Lanka and Thailand to bring home Pakistani prisoners who are serving sentences. But in other countries, prisoners cannot return home until they have served their sentences,” he said.

Mr Khan said the Pakistani mission in Abu Dhabi had requested the UAE authorities to provide information about more than 800 Pakistani prisoners there. Some 853 Pakistani prisoners were in Dubai, 212 in Oman, 349 in Kuwait, 56 in Bahrain, 65 in Iran, 40 in Yemen, two in Jordan, three in Iraq and four in Lebanon.

The minister said he was unaware of the number of Pakistanis given death sentences or even hanged. There were no data on women prisoners, he added.