Islamabad: Pakistan has dispatched a jumbo jet and a naval frigate to bring back in phases its more than 3,000 stranded citizens, including women and children, who have been caught in the raging conflict in Yemen. An Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) official today confirmed the start of operations to evacuate Pakistanis. “Another flight was going later today and the flights will continue until all Pakistanis are evacuated from Yemen,” he said, even as the government is still considering a Saudi request on whether to send troops to join the military campaign in strife-torn Yemen.
He said that the first flight of Boeing-747 is expected to evacuate 504 stranded people from Yemen’s Al-Hudaydah city and it will fly back as soon as the security clearance is issued by the Saudi authorities. Already, about 600 Pakistanis have reached Al-Hudaydah after escaping the fighting in capital Sanaa.
Foreign office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said that the convoy that set off from Sanaa reached Al-Hudaydah safely and a “Pakistan International Airline (PIA) flight will bring them to Pakistan by Sunday night.Our Embassy in Sanaa is exploring all possible options for evacuation of our citizens as soon as it is feasible, given the flights situation,” she tweeted.
It was reported that convoy was searched by the Yemeni armed forces and the Houthi militia before it was permitted to exit Sanaa. Pakistan’s Ambassador to Yemen Irfan Shami said around 1000 Pakistanis will be evacuated in two days.
A frigate belonging to Pakistan Navy also left for the Gulf of Aden on the coast of Yemen today from a seaport in Karachi to rescue the stranded Pakistanis from the war-torn country.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked the authorities to make urgent arrangement to bring back Pakistanis from Yemen. The move comes just a day after Saudi Arabia evacuated its diplomats from Yemen and the UN also pulled out international staff, amid reports that Pakistan might also send its army in aid of Saudi Arabia which launched air strikes on Thursday on Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to stem their advances.
Pakistan government has not given the number of people stranded in Yemen but private media said that there are more than 3,000 of them, including women and children.