LAHORE: A flight on Tuesday brought back 28 Pakistani prisoners from Damam after they were released by Saudi Arabia.
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport where the COVID-19 tests of the released passengers were carried out. Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib, PTI leader Senator Ijaz Chaudhry, and Overseas Pakistan Foundation Director Mustafa Haider were present at the airport.
The government has borne the expenses to bring the released inmates from Saudi Arabia back to Pakistan and arranged a flight. It was reported that 19 prisoners travelled free while nine paid for the journey.
Earlier on July 22, Pakistan repatriated 62 prisoners from Saudi Arabia ahead of Eid-ul-Azha after the government made special arrangements for them.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that upon his instructions, a special flight brought back 62 prisoners released from Saudi Arabia. He said the government was committed to help Pakistani prisoners abroad and assist in their repatriation to Pakistan.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said no other government had shown compassion for overseas Pakistanis like PM Imran Khan. “The joy of [these] families is due to the prime minister’s efforts. Thousands of Pakistanis who were facing issues abroad have been brought back,” he said.
After the prisoners returned to the country, the Foreign Office announced that it is working to bring the remaining prisoners back to the country.
The spokesperson giving details said that “In line with the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh had been in contact with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to coordinate early release and repatriation of those Pakistani nationals who are serving their sentences abroad for minor offences.”
“Upon Pakistan’s request, a high-powered committee of Saudi authorities carried out a detailed review of Pakistanis imprisoned in Riyadh region and waived off sentences of 85 individuals”, the spokesman added.
He further said that upon waiver of sentences, the Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh closely liaised with the relevant Saudi authorities to secure exit visas of these released individuals.
In May, Prime Minister Imran Khan had made a special appeal to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to release Pakistanis jailed in Saudi Arabia so that they could celebrate Eid with their dear and near ones back home.