RAWALPINDI: Calling the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme “a major breakthrough”, Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif said the deal would bring about a change in the regional security paradigm and augured well for peace in the region.
He was speaking to journalists at Benazir Bhutto International Airport after welcoming 176 Pakistani nationals who arrived here from Yemen on Friday. This was the second PIA special flight that brought back Pakistani nationals, including 40 children, stranded in Aden.
The minister said he was happy that the Pakistani citizens had safely made it back home and hoped that the remaining 250 to 300 would be evacuated within a couple of days as soon as the government obtained a corridor through the no-fly zone.
He said it would be easy to evacuate Pakistanis from Al Mukalla than Sanaa because the latter’s airport had been destroyed. However, he said that if they were given security clearance, those stranded in Sanaa could also be airlifted.
When asked about the possibility of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visiting Iran, he said the visit was not yet confirmed because parliament had been called into session on Monday. In addition, the government was trying to seek a peaceful solution to the situation in Yemen to save the Muslim Ummah from disarray, he said, adding that Iranian foreign minister was due in Islamabad on April 8.
“The situation in Yemen will be discussed with the Iranian foreign minister,” he said, adding that the prime minister had already committed that Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity was most important for Pakistan and the government would play its due role in finding a peaceful solution.
When asked about the fate of 11 Pakistanis who are languishing in Yemen’s prisons, the minister said that there was no government with which they could take up the issue now.
Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2015