Saudi Arabia deporting 39,000 Pakistanis is a new low even for Nawaz Sharif

Shantanu Mukharji
Shantanu MukharjiFeb 11, 2017 | 20:28

Saudi Arabia deporting 39,000 Pakistanis is a new low even for Nawaz Sharif

In an apparent loss of face for Pakistan, more than 39,000 of its nationals have been deported from Saudi Arabia in the last four months, according to a notification by the kingdom.

Islamabad stands beleaguered with Donald Trump's contemplation of a hardened stance against its government, including a ban on Pakistani nationals' entry into the US as it joins the league of seven countries on the US president's immigration ban list.

It is still in a state of flux as prime minister Nawaz Sharif's foreign ministry advisors continue to face immense embarrassment in front of the international community.

Pakistan has no defence and no sympathisers to speak for it. Photo: Reuters

Saudi Arabia's cold shoulder is indeed a matter of shame and there is sparse measure and determination in sight to salvage the damage inflicted.

While some quarters have attributed violation of rules of residence and work as reasons for the Pakistani nationals' deportation, several reports suggest that many of them are connected with terror activities orchestrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Their involvement in crimes of drug trafficking, theft, forgery and physical assault promoted the calls for deportation as these are serious charges warranting maximum action.

In another setback to Pakistani "esteem", Abdullah Al Sadoun, chairman of the security committee of the Shoura council, called for thorough scrutiny of Pakistanis before they are inducted for work in Saudi Arabia.

Sadoun said Pakistan should thoroughly verify the antecedents of those trying to come to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly due to the involvement of a number of Pakistanis in a variety of security issues. He also stated that Pakistan itself is plagued with terrorism due to its close proximity with Afghanistan.

Taliban, according to the security panel chief, was born in Pakistan. Such a pointed attack at Pakistan is rare, but will have far-reaching consequences.

Islamabad is in no position to contest these charges because as many as 82 Pakistani suspects are languishing in intelligence prisons over charges of terror and linked offences.

Pakistan has no defence and no sympathisers to speak for it.

It is also pertinent that in 2013 alone, Saudi authorities had deported more than 7,00,000 foreigners for violating work and local laws and foiled more than 2,90,000 attempts by infiltrators to enter the kingdom illegally.

These are no mean figures and fresh in public memory.

It's likely such breaches of contract will continue to occur with no impact on the Pakistani establishment or expression of remorse.

The Pakistani government's silence on the development indicates state inertia to react or even register a token protest.

It's also possible that it is deliberate because it is on a weaker wicket in the face of a dedicated reverse swing from the Saudi bosses.

As it is increasingly isolated in the international community, with Trump's threat of exclusion looming large, it's high time Pakistan concentrates on putting its house in order rather than poking its nose in the affairs of Kashmir, or abetting terror in India through ISI's network.

If Pakistan fails to act now, it's surely heading for worse with far-reaching implications.

The whole world, minus China, may unite against it on the elimination of terror and its very survival looks like a huge challenge in the long run.

Last updated: February 11, 2017 | 20:34
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