Over half of 9,000 Pakistanis imprisoned across the globe were arrested on charges of drug smuggling, officials of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis informed the Senate Committee on Overseas Pakistanis on Tuesday.
A Pakistani citizen, Zulfiqar, who is facing execution in Indonesia on charges of drug smuggling, is not well and is receiving treatment, the foreign ministry said, adding that his execution had been halted last week because of the ministry's efforts.
"A new date for the execution has not yet been announced," foreign ministry official said.
Appalled at the finding, the members of the committee asked why the ministry was not making sure that travellers were aware of the menace and why it was so easy to take smuggle drugs from Pakistan.
The Senate committee was further told that a marked decrease in Pakistanis going to Saudi Arabia has been observed in the past year. Nearly 462,000 Pakistanis had left for Saudi Arabia in 2016, compared to only 70,000 until June this year, the committee was informed.
However, the ministry and the National Database Regulatory Authority (NADRA) were unaware of the number of people who had returned from Saudi Arabia, the committee was told.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also informed the committee that the Saudi government was taking action against those entering the country illegally. To this end, the Saudi government has announced a general pardon for people who entered the country illegally and will not even blacklist them, the foreign ministry officials said.
In this regard, efforts taken by the ministry include provision of emergency travel documents to 79,000 citizens and passports to 28,000 people.