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2.7 million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia, minister tells NA

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif on Friday informed the National Assembly that the ministry was fully cognisant of the issues of overseas Pakistanis and determined to address all matters on priority basis.

Replying to a calling attention notice in the National Assembly, the minister said that 2.7 million Pakistanis were living in Saudi Arabia while the number of Community Welfare Officers was very low to address the issues of overseas Pakistanis in that country timely.

He said that several Pakistani prisoners were detained in some jails of Saudi Arabia with different charges and the reasons behind large number of Pakistani imprisonment were visa expiry or over-stay while there were few cases of criminal and civil offence.

He added there were proposals under consideration that the number of Community Welfare Officers be reasonably increased in countries like Saudi Arabia, where a large number of Pakistanis were living.

He said presently due to low capacity, there was an issue of dealing with a large number of overseas Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia and that it will be resolved after appointment of new Community Welfare officers. He, however, added that other
ministries were responsible for appointment of these officers.

He said during his visit to Saudi Arabia, he had taken the issues with Saudi Foreign Minister. He said there were issues like increase in visa fees besides visitors’ visa fees and said that all these issues were being reviewed.

He said the role of Anti Narcotics Force, Pakistan Customs and FIA was critical in controlling the drugs’ smuggling abroad. He added there was a need to have vigilance and enforcement at airports to control this menace.

He said laws should be implemented and facilitators of drugs smugglers should be apprehended, particularly those indulged in smuggling via Afghanistan.

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