Pakistan concerned regarding deportation of overseas Pakistanis from Saudi Arabia

Pakistan has conveyed its concerns to Saudi Arabia regarding the kingdom’s new labour laws, which may lead to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of expatriates, including Pakistanis, from the country.

Last month, Saudi Arabia amended its labour laws, setting tough restrictions for overseas workers to qualify for employment. The new changes barred sponsors from letting their workers work for others. They also barred them from employing workers of other sponsors, which resulted in employees being bound to work with their sponsors only.

At the same time, the Saudi labor ministry recently launched a crackdown against the foreign owners of small and medium sized enterprises.

According to the labour ministry, there were at least 250,000 SMEs that didn’t employ a single Saudi worker and most of those firms were run by foreigners.

Reports indicate that at least 2 million expatriates may lose their jobs or leave the kingdom shortly due to the new laws. A large number of expatriates, including Indians, Pakistanis, Yemenis and many others have been arrested for violating residential permit and labour regulations.

Speaking at his weekly news briefing here on Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said Pakistan was in close contact with Saudi authorities to ‘facilitate and protect the interests of overseas Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia.’

The spokesman said President Asif Zardari wrote a letter to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz requesting him to facilitate overseas Pakistanis there.

“We are heartened to note the announcement made by the Saudi government that it has given a three month grace period to all Pakistanis to fulfill their legal requirements,” he added.

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