Stranded in Saudi: 700 innocent Pakistanis duped by Turkish company

Published: February 11, 2013
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As embassy remains useless, they appeal to President, CJ. DESIGN: MAHA HAIDER

As embassy remains useless, they appeal to President, CJ. DESIGN: MAHA HAIDER

ISLAMABAD: 

The dreams of earning a decent living for their families back home have been shattered for 700 Pakistani workers. Trapped in Saudi Arabia, deprived of their passports and not allowed to work, these honest and hard working Pakistani citizens have been swindled of their life savings in a fraud case involving a Turkish construction company and its Saudi employees.

Talking to The Express Tribune about their ordeal, the workers revealed that they arrived in Saudi Arabia towards the end of 2011 and since then have not been allowed to work or travel outside the Kingdom.

A Turkish company, MAAPA Construction and Trade had hired these Pakistani workers through different travel and recruiting agencies during 2011 after payment of a hefty sum against visa issuance. The stranded workers revealed that these agencies included Al Jawad recruiting agency and Iqra recruiting agency, among others.

However, once the labourers reached the kingdom, they were informed that the company did not have enough work. “We gave our passports to our respective agents and were issued Iqama (residence permit), but before we could begin work we were informed by a Saudi agent that the company did not have enough work, advising us to wait. He added that the company will call us when they need us,” they revealed.

As it turned out, the visas issued to the Pakistani’s were in fact illegal. As the fraud came to light, a case was registered at Emara (Governor House), Riyadh and the passports of the 700 workers were confiscated by Governor House Police. The case is currently under process.

The Turkish company, instead of helping the stranded Pakistani citizens, blamed their manager for issuing fake visas for work that never existed. The manager and his Saudi counterparts are now under arrest.

“When we met the manager of the company, he confided to us that the visas we are holding are illegal. He said the company would help us in the deportation process,” according to Zeeshan Ahmad, one of the stranded workers.

Ahmad said this was unacceptable. He added that the Pakistani workers are demanding that they be reimbursed for their expenses and be allowed to exit properly from the Kingdom, since they did not commit any fraud.

However, the Pakistani workers are stuck. It has been almost a year since the case was first registered but no respite in sight for these workers, who are not allowed to transfer their work permits to another company.

“We are not sure how much time it will take. We are innocent; we paid a handsome amount and came to, the kingdom for a better future. Instead we are suffering for someone else’s crime,” said Shahzad Kashmiri, another Pakistani worker.

“We went to the embassy of Pakistan, hoping to receive help. Despite our frequent visits and our meeting with ambassador Muhammad Naeem Khan, no progress has been made on our behalf as yet,” said Kashmiri. No Pakistani official at the Foreign Office was available for comment on the issue.

Desperate for salvation and faced with a lack of response from the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh, these labourers are now appealing to President Asif Ali Zardari, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the Minister for Overseas Pakistanis to take notice of the case and give them the opportunity to travel back to their homeland.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Anthony Permal
    Feb 11, 2013 - 10:56AM

    Our government ministers constantly say they stand for justice for persecuted people in some other countries of interest to them.

    Let’s see how they react now that their own stranded countrymen are calling for help.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Feb 11, 2013 - 11:08AM

    These are Pakistanis, Turks and Saudis, they cannot do that to innocent Muslims. This must be a conspiracy against our brother countries. Ever heard “a fool and his money are soon parted”? All my life I have heard these stories yet most do not learn from them. Too bad for the workers and their families.

    Recommend

  • ishtiaer hussain
    Feb 11, 2013 - 11:14AM

    The foreign exhange which these labourers earn keeps Pakistan afloat and prevents it from soveriegn bankruptcy. Their remittances is one of the basic reasons why we are not so much desperate about another bail-out package from IMF for the time being which would have forced us to swallow very bitter pills. They deserve much better treatment.

    Recommend

  • gp65
    Feb 11, 2013 - 11:35AM

    @Anthony Permal: “Our government ministers constantly say they stand for justice for persecuted people in some other countries of interest to them.
    Let’s see how they react now that their own stranded countrymen are calling for help.”

    Fat chance. Your government is more concerned about Afzal Guru who was sentenced for terrorism in India after due process of law than for these Pakistani citizens.

    Recommend

  • Shafique Ahmed
    Feb 11, 2013 - 11:49AM

    The satiation is very hard in KSA for foreign Pakistani and facing too many difficulties while Govt is imposing new laws every year, and 1000s of Pakistani in UAE is being finished from their jobs daily, Pakistan govt should talk to the their ambassadors to take relevant steps.

    Recommend

  • Awais
    Feb 11, 2013 - 11:52AM

    The blatant disregard of rules and laws but why innocent labors are being punished for the mischief of others. Pakistan Embassy is obliged to stand with its citizens and take care for them. How fake visas issued and stamped is a big question for Saudi ministry?

    Recommend

  • Feb 11, 2013 - 11:53AM

    KSA has one of the worst track record when it comes to handling of immigrant workers. On top of it, our own diplomats there spend too much time schmoozing around and not doing anything for the Pakistani citizens. Their only job is to show up on Pakistani events as chief guests and remind us that we are lucky to have them amongst us. I am really happy that ET has picked up this issue and let’s hope that this stays on the radar until the ordeal of poor workers is resolved.

    Recommend

  • UZAIR
    Feb 11, 2013 - 12:13PM

    The cruel and never helping attitude of pakistani goverment everytime. we expat people work hard in harsh weather and harsh envoirment to earn bread for our family. But it takes the goverment one rule i.e. “never help people ” to kill all of our dreams. Thats not all the agent type people who earn millions in months by making false agreemet and taking a lot of money.

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  • UZAIR
    Feb 11, 2013 - 12:16PM

    @ishtiaer hussain quite right brother.

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  • Saeed
    Feb 11, 2013 - 12:25PM

    It is not the Turkish company’s fault, that is misleading. It is the Immigration, and overseas Pakistani organizations which are responsible. Shame on our diplomats who enjoy great perks and benefits and are mostly political appointees, and do nothing for the poor people. Symptomatic of our corrupt elite.Recommend

  • observer
    Feb 11, 2013 - 12:29PM

    Stranded in Saudi: 700 innocent Pakistanis duped by Turkish company

    One set of Muslims (Pakistanis) are duped by another set of Muslims (Turks) while a third set of Muslims ( Saudis) just stand by and refuse to help.

    And yet Pakistanis go GaGa over the Ummah at the drop of a hat.

    Recommend

  • scotchpak
    Feb 11, 2013 - 1:10PM

    The government is what it is; but Pakistanis like being duped especially in the name of religion

    Recommend

  • hu
    Feb 11, 2013 - 1:31PM

    Can someone help me getting in touch with these individuals!!!

    Thanks

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  • UFF
    Feb 12, 2013 - 12:46AM

    They are “demanding for their money back”.

    Bribing to get into the Middle East, knowing VERY well that these ‘travel agents’ are getting someone in the company to issue papers for them, what the beep did they expect?

    The manager of the company is in jail, case closed. These guys should go and beep themselves.Recommend

  • Feb 13, 2013 - 12:40PM

    @UFF:
    LOL yeah! Never pay for a job. That’s one of the oldest scams in the book.

    Recommend

  • Thamir
    Feb 17, 2013 - 2:53AM

    This happens all too often. Unscrupulous overseas recruiters dupe their own countrymen with exorbitant fees and then Saudi gets all the bad rap.

    Recommend

  • Zeeshan Asif
    Feb 21, 2013 - 10:17PM

    Thanks express news for our help now pakistani embassy support us lot and nearly cause is going to finish soon.

    Recommend

  • Feb 23, 2013 - 3:26PM

    No one is encourage you. Give their money return back.

    dialus

    Recommend

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