Overseas Pakistanis will be back home soon, assures Imran Khan

Imran Khan asks ministers to show performance

Abdul Basit

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday assured all overseas Pakistanis that the country will bring back all Pakistanis who are interested to come back to their homeland. The Prime Minister was addressing senior journalists during a live TV telecast.

Pakistan Federal Minister Asad Umar mentioned that the government is considering to open more international airports to bring back overseas Pakistanis.

Earlier, Pakistan Consul General in Dubai Ahmed Amjad Ali has confirmed that more than 35,000 Pakistanis have registered with the Pakistan consulate in Dubai in a bid to return to their homeland, Consul General Ahmed Amjad Ali confirmed on Wednesday.

Ali informed that preparations are underway to bring back the stranded Pakistanis.

“Tourists, unemployed and the elderly will be given preference,” he said describing the criteria for the evacuation.

He added that bringing Pakistanis back in such large numbers is a huge challenge for them.

Meanwhile, Dubai authorities have stated that they are ready to operate flights for the Pakistanis and waiting for permission in this regard.

Pakistan is a big labour supplier to the UAE, with more than a million Pakistanis living and working in the country, according to Pakistani diplomats.

Since March, Dubai has been under lockdown as the UAE ramped up measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In March, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division Moeed W Yusuf had assured the nation that the government was in touch with the authorities of those countries where Pakistani passengers are stuck in transit.

A few days ago, Pakistan Consulate in Dubai asked Pakistani nationals who are stuck in the UAE due to flight suspensions and want to return have been asked to register.

Consulate General of Pakistan, Dubai, is collecting data of the people who want to travel back to Pakistan when special flights will become operational.

“The Consulate General of Pakistan is collecting data of people who want to travel to Pakistan, if any special flights are arranged from UAE. All concerned are requested to kindly fill the form and send back on WhatsApp to 0097156-3962911 or email at parepdubai@mofa.gov.pk ,” the consulate said in a tweet on Friday. The form is also available on the consulate’s twitter handle.

On April 7, Dubai’s flydubai said that it has opened ticket booking for flights to Pakistan and India from next week to repatriate stranded people in the UAE, but it’s subject respective governments approvals.

“A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) sets out the flight restrictions that are in place between the UAE and India in response to Covid-19. Flydubai has opened flights for sale to India and Pakistan to allow repatriations for their nationals from April 15 and will operate subject to government approval,” Flydubai spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday.

Currently, thousands of Indian and Pakistani nationals are stranded in the UAE to suspension of flights.

Earlier in the day, The UAE News broke the news and published a story on its website mentioning the flight bookings from next week.

Dubai-based flydubai is expected to resume flight operations for Pakistan and India from April 15.

Initially, the Dubai carrier will start flying to major cities of Pakistan such as Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan. For India, major destinations will include New Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Chennai, and Calicut.

Flydubai’s elder brother Emirates airline has already started limited operations from April 6 with select destinations in Europe.

Dubai’s flagship airline Emirates resumed its special flights after suspension, with the first flight taking off from Dubai International on Monday morning and landing in Frankfurt in the afternoon.

Flights to the other two scheduled destinations – Heathrow London and Zurich – were cancelled. The flights are operating from Dubai International’s Terminal 2.

Emirates earlier this week received approvals to commence special flights from April 6 from Dubai to five European cities of London, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich, with four flights a week to London Heathrow, and 3 flights a week to the other cities.

Along with outbound passengers from the UAE, the flights also carried belly-hold cargo in both directions, supporting trade and communities with the transport of essential goods.

However, it was not revealed how many passengers were onboard the first flight. Thousands of passengers from different countries who wish to go back home are currently in the UAE.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, earlier said that these initial passenger services are limited to travellers who meet the entry requirements set by the destination countries.

“While we hope to resume full operations as soon as possible, we acknowledge the challenges faced by many cities in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. Our network can only be restored with the easing of travel restrictions, and we maintain close contact with all authorities for latest updates,” Sheikh Ahmed said. – abdulbasit@theuaenews.com