The first flight dispatched to Yemen to facilitate the evacuation of Pakistanis stranded in the Middle Eastern conflict zone landed at Karachi airport Sunday night, with around 500 Pakistani nationals on board.
The arriving citizens were warmly welcomed by their families, political leaders and social activists.
Around 326 evacuees, who had arrived from Yemen, reached Islamabad early on Monday in a subsequent flight. The passengers were welcomed by a PML-N delegation as they disembarked from the aircraft. Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed talking to media-persons said that, “All citizens had been praying for the return of those Pakistanis who were stranded in Yemen. The efforts and hard work of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif enabled the return of the stranded citizens.” He added that the premier maintained close coordination with the pilot of the aircraft which brought back the stranded Pakistanis from Yemen. Earlier, Pakistan Ambassador to Yemen Irfan Yousuf who accompanied the stranded countrymen on the flight, talking to a private TV channel, said, “I have done my job”. He said 496 Pakistanis are evacuated in the first batch. They included 116 children. He added that he will continue to help in the evacuation operation from the federal capital. A PIA crew member told the media that some 500 passengers have been brought back onboard the flight. He said a PIA flight will take over 350 of these passengers belonging to other parts of the country to Islamabad.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed Senior Vice President Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) Sindh Chapter Shah Muhammad Shah and MPA Humayun Khan to receive the arriving families at the Karachi airport. Similarly the prime minister also directed Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rasheed and Member National Assembly Tariq Fazal Chaudhry to receive the evacuated Pakistanis from Yemen at the Islamabad airport tonight on his behalf. A Boeing-747 jumbo jet of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was sent to Al-Hudaydah airport after being given clearance by Saudi aviation authorities. The flight was expected to evacuate 504 stranded Pakistanis. A convoy of 600 Pakistanis had reached Al-Hudaydah Sunday after escaping from the embattled Yemeni capital Sanaa to leave for Pakistan. The convoy was inspected heavily by the Yemeni armed forces and the Houthi militia before it was permitted to exit Sanaa.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Yemen Dr Irfan Shami had said earlier that 482 Pakistanis will be evacuated on the first flight. He maintained that around 1,000 Pakistanis will be evacuated and sent to Pakistan in a span of two days. Women and children will be transported first, the ambassador said. “On seeing the plane landing, stranded Pakistanis expressed their happiness by clapping,” he said. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said late Saturday that around 3,000 Pakistanis lived in Yemen, with some 1,000 trying to leave the country. The convoy of Pakistanis, which includes women and children, was to stay in a school in Al-Hudaydah until their departure for Pakistan. According to the spokesman of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the flight operations will be continued until all Pakistanis are evacuated from Yemen.