Pakistanis stuck in India appeal for safe return

Stranded citizens urge Indian, Pakistani governments to expedite efforts for repatriation


Asif Mehmood April 20, 2020
Stranded citizens urge Indian, Pakistani govts to expedite efforts for repatriation. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

LAHORE: Pakistanis stranded in India on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to contact New Delhi for their safe return.

Last week, around 41 Pakistanis returned home via the Wagah border in the first phase, while 145 more still await repatriation. Those repatriated included Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims.

Citizens, who have been stuck in the neighbouring country almost for a month, have requested both governments to expedite efforts for their safe return to the home country.

In a video message, they urged the prime minister and the foreign minister to contact Indian government for their evacuation.

Batool Bibi, one of the stranded citizens, said that she along with her eight familymembers was staying at a hotel in India since the lockdown. However, they are now running out of money to pay bills.

“We reached Mumbai through the Wagah border on March 9 and were scheduled to return on 19th. But we could not return owing to the countrywide lockdown,” said Batool Bibi – a resident of Karachi.

Foreign diplomats briefed on Pakistan’s strategy to cope with Covid-19 crisis

India on Monday recorded its biggest single-day spike in Covid-19 cases as the government eased one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to allow some manufacturing and agricultural activity to resume. An additional 1,553 cases were reported over the past 24 hours, pushing the national total past 17,000.

Another lady from the provincial capital of Sindh, Shameema Shabbir, said that she is being treated well, and though the Indian government has further extended their visas they were running out of cash.

“Earlier, we had booked two separate rooms, but now all are together in a single room,” she said.

Shameema added: “We have contacted the Pakistani High Commission in India and they have assured us of our earliest return.” She appealed to both Indian and Pakistani governments to include their names in the second list of Pakistanis returning from India.

The Pak-India border was closed last month amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Meanwhile, around 81 Pakistanis stuck in South Africa departed for Pakistan via the Pakistan International Flight on Monday. The Pakistani High Commission said on return the flight will bring back as many as 80 South African nationals, which includes a high number of Tableeghi Jamaat members.

“A charter flight has been arranged for the repatriation of the nationals with the help of local Muslim welfare organisation,” said the commission, adding that around 32 Pakistanis from the neighbouring country of South Africa have also been sent back.

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They added that such Pakistanis were stuck in South Africa since March 21 after the closure of international flights.

Repatriation from UAE

More special flights have been announced to repatriate more than 3,000 passengers from the United Arab Emirates to Pakistan this week, Gulf News reported.

According to the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai, the screening of all the passengers would be carried out before the departure and the repatriated passengers will have to stay in quarantine for at least two days in Pakistan.

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