Islamabad: In a piece of recent news, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia discussed ways to alleviate Covid-19 travel restrictions on Tuesday, which have trapped over 400,000 Pakistani employees at home, according to their foreign ministries.

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The issue was raised in Islamabad with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, who is in the nation for a one-day visit. After fractures in their usually cordial relations early this year, FM Faisal is the first high-ranking Saudi official to visit Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a joint news conference in Islamabad that around 400,000 of over two million Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia had been stranded at home due to travel restrictions.

“They are facing challenges, you know the travel restrictions and you know the issues of vaccination,” he said.

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Saudi Arabia, which prohibits direct travel from Pakistan, has only authorised the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccinations, so anybody coming without one must undergo quarantine, which many Pakistani employees claim they cannot pay.

Although the Saudi FM claimed that his country has supplied Covid-19 injections to 1.7 million Pakistani employees, the majority of Pakistanis had got a Chinese vaccination. Saudi Arabia’s Pakistani labour provides $7 billion annually, accounting for a fifth of the country’s overall remittances.

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