PESHAWAR: With around 10,000 foreigners likely to begin landing at the Bacha Khan International Airport after evacuation from Afghanistan this week, the district administration took control of 10 hotels in the provincial capital on Friday to accommodate them on their way to the respective countries.
The administration claims that it is ready to receive transit passengers on an hour’s notice.
“We [administration] have made elaborate arrangements to receive foreigners in the provincial capital from Afghanistan,” an official told Dawn on condition of anonymity.
He said currently, the air traffic system at Kabul airport was down and therefore, the administration of Peshawar had no idea about the number of the people flying in from there.
Around 10,000 transit passengers to fly in
“We will know only once planes enter Pakistani airspace but we are anticipating the arrival of 10,000 foreigners, including Afghans,” he said.
The official said the visitors would be treated as transit passengers.
“Afghans will be accommodated at the Dauranpur quarantine centre on the outskirts of Peshawar city and Haji camps in Peshawar, while the other foreigners, including diplomats, will be accommodated at hotels according to their status,” he said.
The official said the district administration had held meetings with hoteliers, who had placed their buildings on the disposal of the district administration.
The official said the administration was treating the issue on priority.
The details available with Dawn show that 10 hotels with a total of 419 rooms are on the disposal of the district administration to accommodate foreigners evacuated from Afghanistan, including diplomats.
The city’s lone five-star hotel will also be used to lodge senior diplomats.
A senior official told Dawn that the administration expected 10,000 people and had made transportation, accommodation and security arrangements for visitors.
He said tentatively, Pakistan was expected to receive up to 40,000 evacuees and of them, around 15,000 would go to Islamabad, 10,000 to Peshawar and the rest to Lahore and Karachi.
The official said that arrangements for those foreigners had been made in light of the federal government’s directions.
A local hotelier told Dawn on condition of anonymity that he and other hotel owners were in contact with the district administration regarding the accommodation of the people to be evacuated from Afghanistan.
He said that the district administration wanted to take the control of entire hotels but rents had yet to be decided.
The hotelier said that the authorities had revealed that the number of evacuees was likely to be very high.
He, however, said that the hotel owners were in contact with the authorities for the resolution of the relevant issues.
“We [hotel owners] will cooperate with the government on this [evacuation] issue as a national duty. There are more than 150 hotels in the provincial capital, which can be utilised to house the foreigners flying in from Afghanistan,” he said.
Also in the day, commissioner of Peshawar division Riaz Khan Mehsud chaired three meetings here to finalise arrangements for those evacuees.
The meetings were attended by the capital city police officer, commander of 102 Brigade of the Pakistan Army, manager of the Bacha Khan International Airport, deputy commissioners of Peshawar division, and officials of the Federal Investigation Agency and relevant agencies.
The participants discussed the security, transportation and accommodation of transit passengers.
Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2021