Held up in Saudi Arabia: President takes notice of stranded workers

Directs officials concerned to investigate the matter and return of the stranded workers.

Our Correspondent February 14, 2013
A file photo of President Asif Ali Zardari. PHOTO: AFP


Taking note of media reports about the plight of nearly 700 Pakistani workers stranded in Saudi Arabia because of invalid visas, President Asif Ali Zardari has called for a report from the concerned authorities, state owned news agency APP reported.

Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said the president has directed the officials concerned to investigate the matter and immediately take appropriate measures for resolving the issue and return of the stranded workers.

It is pertinent to mention that President Zardari’s directive follows a report by The Express Tribune published on Monday, February 11 under the headline “700 innocent Pakistanis duped by Turkish company,” that told of the plight of workers that had been deprived of their passports and right to work in 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.

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.

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.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2013.


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