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Ambassador recalled for ‘mistreating’ Pakistani expats in Saudi Arabia

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz . — Pakembassy KSA/File

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari said Thursday the PM has recalled Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz and some members of his staff after reports emerged that he  “mistreated” the Pakistani expat community living in the Kingdom.

Bukhari, making the announcement, said the ambassador was recalled as the Pakistani community and Embassy staff repeatedly lodged complaints against him over the past couple of months.

Following Amb Ejaz’s removal, retired Lt Gen Bilal Akbar has taken over the post, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in a statement.

Chauhdri said the Pakistani community residing in the Kingdom had reservations against the officials who have been recalled from their posts.

“The Government of Pakistan attaches high importance to the welfare of overseas Pakistanis. Overseas Pakistanis are our greatest asset. Their role in national development is indispensable,” the spokesperson said.

There is zero tolerance, whatsoever, for any lapse in service delivery, he said.

“Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi oversees the working of all our diplomatic missions himself, particularly with regards to the services being provided to the Pakistani community,” the spokesperson said.

“In this regard, Pakistan’s missions all across the world have standing instructions to extend maximum facilitation to the Pakistani community in their respective jurisdictions,” he said.

As regards the Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed an inquiry.

“The prime minister’s directions are being fully implemented” and a high-powered inquiry committee will look into the matter.”

The ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia has already returned and orders have been issued for the recall of six more officers of the diplomatic, community welfare, and consular wings of the Embassy, he added.

Raja Ali Ejaz, a career diplomat, had assumed responsibilities as Ambassador of Pakistan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 21st January 2019, according to a statement on the FO’s website.

PM orders inquiry against envoy to Saudi Arabia

PM Imran Khan had, earlier in the day, said he had ordered a full-scale inquiry against the envoy to Saudi Arabia after receiving reports of mistreatment of overseas Pakistanis by the embassy.

“On my directive, a high-powered investigation is underway to probe the Ambassador and staff on complaints of mistreatment meted out to Pakistanis,” the prime minister said in his address at the launch of Roshan Digital incentives for expats.

The premier expressed strong displeasure on reports of embassy staff allegedly involved in minting money from Pakistani nationals.

The maximum staff of the embassy has been recalled, he added.

He warned of strict action against those held responsible for negligence.

“It is the duty of foreign missions to extend best possible services to Pakistanis, particularly belonging to the labour and working classes,” he said.

PM Imran in particular acknowledged the services of labour working abroad in tough conditions and sending hard-earned money to their families back home.

“These workers deserve our utmost respect and the government will not spare anyone misbehaving with them,” he said.

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