Saudi Arabia Deports Pakistanis Due to Terror Fears
The Saudi government has called for the deportation of thousands of Pakistani foreign nationals for security and visa violation concerns and many migrant workers who lacked proper documentation were also deported. According to a recent report from the Saudi Gazette, “About 39,000 Pakistanis have been deported from the Kingdom in the past four months for violating the rules of residence and work, according to informed security sources.”
Some of these security concerns include drug-trafficking, forgery, theft and money laundering. Since last year there have been many strikes for better wages for foreign nationals especially with the decline in oil prices and more unrest in the Saudi kingdom. In addition, Geo reported that “a total of 242,817 irregular Pakistani migrants were deported between 2012 and 2015.” A majority of these foreign nationals are Pakistanis and The Independent reported that “Approximately 80 Pakistani nationals are currently in prison in Saudi Arabia charged with terror or security related offences.”
According to the Gulf Research Center, around 33% of Saudi Arabia’s population consists of foreign nationals that are looking for jobs and some are businessmen. Many foreign national workers were even jailed and imprisoned for protesting unfair salary wages. Approximately 900,000 Pakistanis are currently employed in Saudi Arabia’s vast construction industry and other low-paid service jobs according to The Independent.
In order to address this problem, the Saudi government must coordinate with the Pakistani government to make sure that security checks are in place to identify any connections to terrorism and to verify that people are entering legally. Also, there must be tougher political and religious investigations and screening processes for foreigners entering the country. For many years, the Saudi government has worked to make employment more open to Saudi nationals, but this has been met with little success. However, Pakistani nationals have been found to be involved in terror related activities recently. Expats from some South Asian countries live with the perception that nothing would happen to them even if they don’t abide by the law. This is not the case in Saudi Arabia. The deportation of thousands of Pakistanis within a short time span is alarming.
The Pakistani government should continue negotiating with the Saudi government and address the issue seriously. The rule of law and order is strong and maintaining security is vital for the survival of the Saudi kingdom.