Saudi Arabia deports thousands of Pakistanis in four months

Saudi Arabia deports thousands of Pakistanis in four months
More than 39,000 Pakistani migrants were deported from Saudi Arabia in the past four months, a Saudi newspaper reported on Tuesday.
2 min read
08 February, 2017
Last year also saw major lay-offs of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia [AFP]
Over 39,000 Pakistanis have been deported from Saudi Arabia in the last four months, the Saudi Gazette reported on Tuesday. 

The deportations were attributed to visa violations, crime and security concerns linking the deportees to terrorist organisations, but come amid a background of migrant worker unrest that has plagued the kingdom over the past year.

Citing "informed security sources", the Saudi Gazette said that a number of the Pakistanis deported were linked to Islamic state group or terrorist activities. 

Others were deported over crimes including drug trafficking, theft, forgery and physical assault. 

News of the deportations follows intermittent reports of migrant worker protests over unpaid salaries, after the increasing strain on Saudi public finances since the downturn in oil prices over the past years.

Dozens of expatriate workers were flogged and jailed last month following public protests that spilled over into violence, which saw buses torched in Mecca after construction workers at major Saudi companies including the Binladin Group and Saudi Oger had their salaries unpaid.

Last year also saw the Philippines government seek assistance in rescuing Filipino workers left jobless after the downturn in the economy, as well as major lay-offs of Indian workers.

But the deportation of Pakistani workers has been driven primarily to security concerns, according to the Saudi Gazette.

Saudi officials have called for a rigorous vetting process before allowing foreign workers into the kingdom.

Abdullah Al-Sadoun, chairman of security committee of the Shura Council, urged for tougher screening process of Pakistani nationals before they are allowed entry into the country. 

"Pakistan itself is plagued with terrorism due to its close proximity with Afghanistan. The Taliban extremist movement was itself born in Pakistan," he warned.

Sadoun stressed that the religious and political beliefs of Pakistani nationals must be known to Saudi authorities before they are granted work or given entry into the kingdom.