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Mon 18 Feb 2019 05:42 PM

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Saudi Crown Prince orders release of Pakistani prisoners

Mohammed Bin Salman has ordered the release of more than 2,000 Pakistani prisoners languishing in the country's jails

Saudi Crown Prince orders release of Pakistani prisoners

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has ordered the release of more than 2,000 Pakistani prisoners languishing in the country’s jails, according to a statement by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

“On the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has ordered the immediate release of the 2,107 prisoners,” Qureshi said in a video statement posted on Twitter.

“This is great news. The families of the released had been requesting this for a very long time, and we are very grateful for the gesture. This will only strengthen the relations between the two countries,” he added.

MBS’ decision came after an unprecedented speech by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan during a dinner reception at the Prime Minister’s house during when he asked him to “ease the hardships” of labourers in the country, and to “look upon them as your own people.”

“These are very special people for us. This is something very close to me. And I would request you to do something for them to ease their hardships,” Khan said last night.

Khan’s unscripted request drew quick reaction from the Saudi Crown Prince, who turned to a visibly emotional Khan before placing his hand on his heart, saying, “Rest assured. We will not say no to Pakistan. Anything we can do, we will deliver.”

Mohammed Bin Salman in on a two-day trip to Pakistan, his first visit to the South Asian country and also his first trip East of Saudi Arabia. The two-day visit have so far seen both countries agree to $20 billion in the first phase of agreements signed across fuel and energy, with more expected to be agreed on today.

Mohammed Bin Salman’s Islamabad visit is the first leg of a journey that will also seem him visit India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Khan’s address last night was rare for its content. No prior head of state of a South Asian economy has publicly asked a leader of a Gulf economy, where millions of blue-collar workers toil in often taxing conditions, to try and aid their cause.

“There are 2.5 million Pakistanis working in the country, some white collar workers but mostly labourers, and another 3,000 in jail… and I just want to say that these are people who leave their families and go away only to send home a livelihood for them. They don’t see their families for a year sometimes. These are poor people who work hard, and imagine leaving family and children behind to send money back. It is something that would please the almighty. This is a special request for them that they sometimes face hardships and we would like you to look upon them as your own people,” said Khan.

“We have a close affinity to Saudi Arabia, your people are like our brothers, and we would like you to have the same feeling for them,” he added.