KARACHI: A Pakistan Navy ship PNS Aslat which was previously sent to war-stricken Yemen for evacuation arrived at Karachi Port on Tuesday carrying 146 Pakistanis.
According to Mission Commander Commodore Zahid Ilyas, apart from 146 Pakistanis, 36 people of other nationalities such as Indian, Canadian, Chinese, Filipino, Syrian, Indonesian and British were also on board PNS Aslat.
|Evacuee disembarking the ship - DawnNews screen grab|
The Pakistani evacuees upon returning waved flags and chanted "Pakistan Zindabad" slogans. High officials of the Pakistan Navy were also present to greet and receive the evacuees along with the chairman of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation.
Tents and 'Welcome to Pakistan' sign boards have also been placed at the port.
|Navy personnel welcome joyous evacuees - DawnNews screen grab|
PNS Aslat had reached Mukalla on Friday, but could not evacuate Pakistanis because of deterioration in law and order situation following the jailbreak there in which Al Qaeda reportedly freed 300 inmates. The ship had to be diverted to the nearby Ash Shihr port. 146 Pakistanis were then evacuated on Saturday along with 36 people of different nationalities.
So far, 849 have been evacuated from Yemen.
A Boeing 747 flight brought back 503 Pakistanis on March 31. Subsequently, 186 were evacuated from Aden on board a Chinese vessel to Djibouti and from there to Pakistan by a special PIA flight.
When passengers had disembarked, a press event was held where various officials and foreign nationals were given the opportunity to provide insight into their experiences with evacuation from Yemen.
Ambassador to Yemen Dr Irfan Shami spoke at the event, saying that Pakistan was the first country that, within 16 hours of the order for evacuation being passed, had begun the evacuation process.
He announced the impending arrival of PNS Shamsheer, a naval vessel in Djibouti bringing the last group of stranded Pakistanis back home. “Not even one Pakistani has been injured or harmed in any way,” he said.
“The embassy had a population of 921, and we have rescued 1,019 Pakistanis … Those who are left in Yemen are staying behind of their own accord,” he stated.
“Our flight from Sanaa had 80 empty seats on it. On the ship, 22 people came and then went back. These people went back on their own.”
He said “The Pakistani Navy said all their assets are at the disposal of Pakistan,” and called Pakistani International Airlines (PIA) “the greatest people to fly with, the way they have conducted two daring operations.” He praised Captain Imtiaz, one of the pilots manning a flight used in the rescue operation, saying “he took off at 8:00 am and brought the plane back at 10:30 pm at night ─ it is a test of endurance.”
Noor-ul-Ain Ijaz, the principal of Pakistan National English School in Mukalla, the school which hosted stranded citizens prior to their evacuation, was also present.
She said of the responsibilities assigned to the school administration: “We had to assemble the people of Mukalla and surrounding cities, get their documents verified, make lists … The staff fed them, and we facilitated them for five days as best as we could.”
Wajid Ali Chaudhry, Vice Chairman at the Pakistan National English School said the school has three branches in Aden, Hudaydah and Mukalla.
“We fed 1,000 people for 8 days, and $60,000 to $80,000 was used in 10 days."
He also announced that the Pakistan National English School branches are functional. "Our secretaries and guards are there. If someone tells us they know someone there in this branch or place, we will get them allocated and brought to Pakistan."