Pakistan offers special aircraft to send evacuated Indian nationals home

Islamabad : Pakistan on Tuesday offered a special aircraft to the Indian government for the return of Indian citizens who arrived in Karachi from war-torn Yemen on a Pakistan Navy ship.

Eleven Indian citizens were on board PNS Aslat along with citizens from various other countries who have been evacuated from Yemen.

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“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has offered a special aircraft to the Indian high commission in Islamabad to send back the 11 Indian citizens,” Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said.

A senior Indian diplomat in Islamabad said that the Indian high commission arranged a commercial flight for their citizens. However, Pakistan’s offer of a special aircraft is urgently being shared with the Indian government in New Delhi, which will take the final decision.

“Officers of the Pakistan authorities including the Navy, from representing countries — on behalf of government of India, and high commission of India — I am grateful for their help and assistance which they provided to our Indian nationals while evacuating their nationals from Yemen,” said Indian diplomat Prabahat K. Jain.

“I am really thankful to them for keeping the morale high during the journey. All the 11 Indians who have accompanied their Pakistani brothers are hale and hearty,” he added.

Ratan, who hails from the south Indian state of Kerala, told Dawn online he went to Yemen for a project. “When we arrived there the situation was not that good but we were told we can still work,” he said. “But after a week, the situation began to deteriorate and we were sent to Al Mukalla.

“When we reached our terminal in Al Mukalla we found out that there is a Pakistani Navy vessel rescuing people. We contacted the Indian embassy and they said we can go on that, we embarked the vessel and were treated very kindly and were given priority. All the military people did very good work.”

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.

PNS Aslat reached Al 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.

A total of 146 Pakistani nationals were then evacuated on Saturday along with 36 people of different nationalities.