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Fake visas strand 700 Pakistani workers

Feb. 11, 2013 at 9:55 AM

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- About 700 Pakistanis have been stranded in Saudi Arabia for more than a year since they paid fees to get work that didn't exist, spokesmen for the workers said.

The workers, since arriving in Saudi Arabia in late 2011, have not been able to work or travel outside the country, The Express Tribune reported Monday.

They said they paid large fees to a Turkish company, MAAPA Construction and Trade, for their work visas to be issued. Once they arrived in Saudi Arabia, the company said there was no work for them.

Saudi officials later said the company had issued illegal visas and MAAPA blamed a local manager for issuing fake visas for work that didn't exist.

The manager and Saudi associates were arrested.

Workers said neither the construction company nor the Pakistani Embassy has helped them in efforts to return home.

They have appealed for help from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and other officials.

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