Saudi deports 40,000 Pakistani workers over terror fears

by WorldTribune Staff, February 14, 2017

Saudi Arabia over the past four months has deported some 40,000 Pakistani workers, many of whom were said to be linked to Islamic State (ISIS) and other terror groups.

Pakistani laborers gather outside the overseas employment consultant office in Rawalpindi to apply for jobs with a construction company in Saudi Arabia. /AFP/Getty Images

The foreign workers were deported for visa violations, security concerns and being involved in crimes such as theft and drug trafficking, the Saudi Gazette reported, citing security sources.

Abdullah Al-Sadoun, the chairman of the security committee of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, has called for extreme vetting of Pakistanis, adding that the workers’ political and religious affiliations should be examined before they are approved to come to the kingdom.

“Pakistan itself is plagued with terrorism due to its close proximity with Afghanistan. The Taliban extremist movement was itself born in Pakistan,” he said.

Some 80 Pakistani nationals are currently in prison in Saudi Arabia charged with terror or security related offenses.

According to a 2014 European University Institute report, there are approximately 900,000 people of Pakistani nationality currently employed in Saudi Arabia’s vast construction industry and other low-paid service jobs.

The reported mass deportations come after a year of strikes and other unrest in the kingdom due to unpaid wages following the oil market’s decline and subsequent blow to the Saudi economy.