The Senate standing committee on interior has asked Saudi Arabia not to execute three Pakistani nationals on death row until the conclusion of negotiations for their release through diplomatic channels.
Committee members directed the Foreign Office to summon the Saudi Ambassador to express its concerns over the issue. They lambasted embassy officials in Saudi Arabia for their indifference. “Premier Gilani should fire the vice councillor for dereliction of duty,” demanded Senator Raziq Khan.
It is the first time that the Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Aziz bin Ibrahim al Ghadeer will be summoned by the foreign office to explain his government’s stance on the impending death sentence for the prisoners. Committee Chairman Senator Talha Mehmood has also asked the Foreign Office to convey its concerns about Pakistanis languishing in Saudi prisons for decades. He has asked Additional Secretary Middle East, Muhammad Aslam to submit his report to the committee within two days.
The Senate committee has advised the Foreign Office to take up the cases of other Pakistanis imprisoned in Saudi Arabia and has asked for case details by the end of this month. In view of the close ties shared by the two countries, ‘Saudi Arabia should not treat imprisoned Pakistanis like animals,’ he said.
The Senate panel was informed that three Pakistanis have been awarded the death sentence after they had paid Rs4 million in diyat to the bereaved families and sent a copy of the agreement to Saudi authorities. Rahmul Wahab, Abdul Rahman and Bashir Afridi were charged for the murder of two Indonesian women and a Pakistani citizen in Saudi Arabia in 1999. The committee summoned Pakistan’s Vice Councilor to Jeddah, Muhammad Nasrullah and asked him to take up the issue with Saudi officials.
The convicts’ families informed the committee that Saudi authorities initially accepted the terms of the agreement but the court later disregarded them and converted their imprisonment into the death sentence. They wrote to the PM, the Foreign Office and Saudi officials but no one has taken up their case.
The three prisoners have spent 12 years in confinement, but the allegations against them have yet to be proven in a court of law. Khan informed the House that the Saudi police has been brutally torturing them for years. There is a strong possibility that the local police may behead these prisoners any time.
The senate body has constituted a sub-committee to monitor any progress in the case of the three prisoners. The lawmakers have warned of a protest in front of the Saudi Embassy if its officials fail to address the issue.
The committee also discussed the procurement by the Frontier Corps (FC) stationed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the last three years. FC officials informed the Committee that they purchased physical assets to fulfill requirements during the last three years. It has directed Col Ijaz to appear with the head of operations and the relevant record in the next meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2011.