Over 1,100 Pakistani prisoners to be freed from Saudi jails

Islamabad: Pakistan’s minister for interior Sheikh Rashid said on Monday that 1,100 Pakistani prisoners languishing in Saudi Arabia’s jails will be repatriated to Pakistan, as a part of agreement signed between two countries.

The interior minister said that Saudi Arabia is also ready to release Pakistanis who have been detained due to serious crimes.

These prisoners have already served a large part of their sentence.

He said that if one billion Pakistani rupees in aid was received, hundreds of other detainees who had to pay small fines could be released from Saudi prisons, but the serious cases would be dealt with separately.

The number of Pakistanis who are still imprisoned in Saudi prisons is 2,500, according to the project.

The minister said that the entire process of returning the detainees has been completed, adding that 30 Pakistanis imprisoned for murder and drug crimes cannot be released.

He said that these 30 Pakistani prisoners had been sentenced to death by a Saudi court.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement on transferring convicted prisoners during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s three-day visit to Saudi Arabia.

There was an increase in the number of Pakistanis sentenced to death abroad and the number of executions carried out globally between 2014 and 2019.

Pakistani citizens made up 57 per cent of death row in Saudi Arabia and 35 per cent of foreign nationals executed by the kingdom in 2019.

The two countries also signed memoranda of understanding regarding the establishment of the Saudi-Pakistani supreme council for coordination, combating illicit drug trafficking, financing energy projects, hydroelectric power generation, infrastructure, transportation and communications, and developing water resources. It also signed a cooperation agreement in the field of combating crimes.

Back in February 2019, the Prime Minister requested the Saudi Crown Prince to release Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails during a visit to the country. Following the prime minister’s request, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the release of 2,107 Pakistani prisoners in Saudi Arabia.