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Saudis expel 39,000 Pakistanis over terror fears

By Richard Spencer for THE TIMES — Saudi Arabia has expelled 39,000 Pakistanis in the past four months amid what it says is a crackdown on terrorism, according to the Saudi Gazette.

Most deportations were for standard visa violations, reported the English-language daily newspaper, published in Jedda. However, officials were also reacting to concern over a number of terrorist attacks, it said.

Abdullah al-Sadoun, chairman of the security committee of Saudi Arabia’s official advisory shura council, said that religious and political affiliations of Pakistanis should be checked before they were allowed to enter the country. “Pakistan is plagued with terrorism due to its close proximity with Afghanistan,” he said. “The Taliban extremist movement was itself born in Pakistan.”

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan both have a long and ambiguous relationship with militant Islam, having funded Islamist factions in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, but later suffering terrorist attacks on home turf.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has led a campaign against al-Qaeda and its offshoots such as Isis, and was once injured by a suicide bomber.

Last summer a taxi driver, one of the 1.5 million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia, blew himself up in an attempted attack on the American consulate in Jeddah. The Saudi Gazette cited official figures saying that 82 Pakistani citizens were in Saudi prisons on security or terrorism-related charges.

The crackdown may also be related to broader issues. Thousands of foreign workers have left the country in recent months as a result of layoffs due to a financial crisis resulting from the fall of oil prices, and there have been arrests and deportations of workers who protested over non-payment of wages.

Source: THE TIMES, The Saudi Gazette

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