Saudi Arabia is not giving Pakistani passports to 4 million Burmese people
Viral tweet falsely claims policy will grant 4 million refugees Pakistan passports
Claim: Journalist Waqas (@worqas) has claimed in a Twitter thread that 4 million Burmese people living in Saudi Arabia will be given Pakistani passports.
Fact: The claim is false. The passport agreement signed on the sidelines of the Road to Makkah Program aimed at simplifying immigration procedures for Pakistani pilgrims. It did not involve any provision for granting Pakistani passports to Burmese people living in Saudi Arabia.
On 10 June 2023, journalist Waqas Ahmed (@worqas) posted a series of tweets (archive) alleging that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had signed a secret deal to give Pakistani passports to 4 million Burmese people living in Saudi Arabia, citing an article from Arab daily newspaper Okaz.
The article shared by Ahmed is related to the Road to Makkah Program, which is an initiative launched by Saudi Arabia in 2019 to facilitate the visa and immigration process for pilgrims performing Hajj and Umrah, and it does not mention anything about giving Pakistani passports to Burmese people living in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the passport agreement was not secret but publicly announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan on 17 May 2023.
On 17 May 2023, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia jointly signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the Makkah Route Initiative. The initiative aims to facilitate Hajj pilgrims from across the Muslim world and provide benefits to Pakistani pilgrims. The Makkah Route Initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s Guests of God Service Program, which was launched in 2019 by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify its economy. Under this scheme, Hajj pilgrims will now benefit from streamlined immigration facilities at their respective countries’ airports.
Fact or Fiction?
In reality, the agreement primarily focuses on the renewal of previously issued passports. In 2012, Pakistan has issued passports to approximately 225,000 Rohingya Muslims, but these passports were not renewed, leading to legal complications for them and their children residing in Saudi Arabia. To address this issue, Pakistan has decided to renew their passports and provide passports to their children as well, as it is their legal right. On May 19, 2023, the Pakistani government announced an agreement signed with Saudi Arabia during the Road to Makkah Program, aimed at simplifying the immigration process for pilgrims. This will grant them a legalized status in Saudi Arabia.
It is important to note that this agreement pertains to the renewal of existing passports and does not involve the provision of Pakistani passports to Burmese Muslims residing in Saudi Arabia.
The tweet was viewed over 626,100 times and received over 5,557 interactions.
Conclusion: Journalist Waqas Ahmed’s claim that 4 million Burmese people living in Saudi Arabia will be given Pakistani passports as part of a deal between the two countries is false.
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