ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) today decided to soften Covid-related travel curbs to facilitate around 400,000 Pakistani workers stranded at home to go back to KSA to work on their jobs.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud announced this decision during a day-long visit of high-ranking Saudi official to Pakistan on Tuesday (July 27).
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad during a joint press conference with Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud that more or less 400,000 Pakistani workers had been stranded at home because of Covid-related travel restrictions and they wanted to go to Saudi Arabia to resume their jobs.
“They are facing challenges, you know the travel restrictions and you know the issues of vaccination,” FM Qureshi said.
Saudi Arabia, which bars direct travel from Pakistan, has only approved the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, thus anyone arriving in KSA without one of these shots is required to complete quarantine at a cost many Pakistani workers cannot afford.
Most of the people in Pakistan have received a Chinese vaccine, although Al Saud said his government had given Covid-19 shots to 1.7 million Pakistani workers.
The Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia contribute $7 billion, or a quarter of the country’s total annual remittances annually.
“We talked about the challenges that Covid-19 has imposed on all of us. It has imposed challenges, travel restrictions, all of these we are working on,” Al Saud said.