RIYADH : Saudi Arabia has deported as many as 700 Pakistani prisoners detained for illegal stay in the Kingdom. Pakistani Counsel General Aftab Khokhar told journalists that the 700 Pakistani prisoners, who were arrested for their illegal stay in Saudi Arabia, have been sent back to Karachi in the first phase. Plans are underway to repatriate 4,400 Pakistani detainees from the Shumaisy deportation centre from Monday. Khokhar held a meeting with the authorities concerned at the Shumaisy deportation centre where he met with Gen Jaman Ghamdi, Salman bin Abdul Aziz and immigration officers from Riyadh. “The meeting was held in the presences of Gen Faiz, head of the Shumaisy deportation centre, and other officers concerned,” he said. “There are currently 4,400 Pakistanis at the deportation centre,” he said adding, “We handed out 2,100 passes on Monday and will distribute the remaining passes within a few days.” Most illegal expats who were in the Madina prison were also sent to Shumaisy and only 195 Pakistanis remain, he said. “Umrah over-stayers or absconders are urged to report to the deportation centre. Saudi authorities have pledged that they would be sent back within 72 hours,” he said. “Individuals with expired residency permits or those who cannot find their sponsors can transfer onto new sponsors.” The CG said that authorities from the consulate recently visited different prisons and deportation centres to follow up on the problems faced by Pakistani prisoners. Consulate authorities visited the prisons in Briman on February 6, Amawi on February 13, Abha on February 19, Madina on February 23 and Taif on March 12. He also urged community members to request machine-readable passports and apply for their passports six months prior to the expiry of their residency permits. “We still receive daily requests for manual passports, which are only given out on an urgent basis,” he said. “The consulate has opened more counters to accommodate the increasing number of people visiting our consulate. We used to have to ask up to 200 people to come back the next day, but we now have the situation under control and everyone is served on a same-day basis.”This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 20-Mar-2014 here.