ISLAMABAD: With international flight operations suspended until April 4, the federal government has decided to make special arrangements to bring home the Pakistanis stranded at airports in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Thailand and Turkey.
Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf said a decision had been made in principle that Pakistanis stranded at airports of the four countries would be brought home.
“However, I suggest that other Pakistanis, who have yet to start their journey, should continue to stay in the countries where they are at the moment. Within a fortnight we will devise a strategy to ensure that the virus does not travel to Pakistan along with the passengers,” he said.
A source said special arrangements for bringing back the stranded Pakistanis would be made just once.
A large number of Pakistanis, who were supposed to travel back home, have been stranded in different countries and their families have urged the Pakistani embassies to facilitate their return as they lack resources to stay abroad for long.
On Saturday when international flight operations were suspended for a fortnight, it was estimated that some 200,000 passengers would suffer because of the decision. However, some PIA aircraft that were in Europe were allowed to arrive in Pakistan on Sunday.
It was also announced that when flight operations would resume, the travellers would not be required to produce at the Pakistani airports papers certifying they have undergone Covid-19 tests.
Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal, the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, said the goal behind suspension of flight operations was to improve border management.
Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2020