Diplomatic mission officials here from Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines responded to the extension of the grace period with delight and gratitude yesterday.
There was widespread praise for Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for issuing the royal decree that will extend the amnesty to Nov. 3, 2013 — an effective four-month extension.Applauding the decision, Muhammad Naeem Khan, ambassador of Pakistan, said: “I would like to thank King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Interior for this concession.”
“King Abdullah is a king of humanity and cares a great deal for the Pakistani community,” Khan said. “I would like to thank all the relevant government departments for helping us sort out the status of members of the Pakistani community.”He said the extension now allows the embassy more time to inform Pakistani workers to correct their status and find jobs. “We have a large number of companies wanting to employ Pakistani workers.”
“I would like to urge the Pakistani community, those who have not corrected their status, and those wanting to return to Pakistan, to not miss this golden opportunity and find employers. Those unable to find employment, should contact the embassy and consulate general in Jeddah. We will help them avoid any hardship.”Hailing the decision, the Indian Embassy thanked King Abdullah for the extension, and the various ministries and the Indian volunteers who helped workers sort out their paperwork.
The embassy also urged all Indians who collected their emergency certificates and obtained exit visas to leave the country immediately.Sibi George, deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy, told Arab News: “We wholeheartedly welcome the decision. It shows the humanitarian approach of the Saudi government.”George said Saudi Arabia and India share strong and historic relations: “We will continue to work together.”The Indian Embassy will continue its operations at deportation, labor offices and Riyadh airport, an embassy official said.
Thanking the king for extending the grace period, Filipino Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago, said: “I want to thank the Saudi ministers of interior, labor, foreign affairs and the Passport Department; and the Filipinos who had been very patient with the procedures involved in processing their papers to go home or correct their status.”The envoy urged all workers “to correct their status as soon as possible and not wait until the last minute.”
“Undocumented Filipinos should immediately proceed to the concerned Saudi government agencies or the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh or consulate in Jeddah to seek assistance,” he said.Back home in the Philippines, Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez also urged undocumented Filipinos to take advantage of the extension.Indonesian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Gatot Abdullah Mansyur, said: “On behalf of the government and the people of Indonesia, I would like to thank the King for his order to extend the grace period.”
“I strongly believe that this extension will benefit both Saudis and foreign workers including Indonesian workers. I encourage Indonesian workers to do their best in correcting their status by fulfilling all requirements. I believe that all concerned authorities in Saudi Arabia will provide their best services to help make the King’s directive a success.”
Bangladesh Ambassador Mohammad Shahidul Islam was also grateful for the extension and thanked the Saudi government. “It provides a lot of time to clear the backlog,” he said.The Sri Lankan Embassy also welcomed the extension of the amnesty deadline saying it would help expatriates correct their status in the Kingdom. Businesspeople have also welcomed the decision.