Photo has been used for illustrative purpose.
Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter
“Pakistani missions in UAE have successfully repatriated around 2870 stranded Pakistanis using 15 special flights, 56 non-corona dead bodies have also been repatriated over the last two weeks and with the operation of more flights, these numbers will increase.”
This was stated by Ahmad Amjad Ali, Pakistan Consul General in Dubai and Northern Emirates while talking with the media at an informal meeting held on Monday evening at the consulate. The gathering to highlight the recent operation of the consulate on the repatriation of stranded community members and food distribution in Dubai and Northern Emirates was attended by officials and the representatives of local media bodies.
“Since the lockdown began on March 21 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dubai became the only city where the government of Pakistan in collaboration with local authorities operated most of the special flights to repatriate stranded community members. We are asking them to have faith in their government with patience. They will not be left without care. Soon, the operation of our carriers will increase to a normal capacity to repatriate more desperate Pakistanis,” Ali said.
He said that to date, the consulate has registered 63,000 who wish to go back to their homes. “We prefer three major categories among stranded Pakistanis, our top priority are those who are sick, elderly or pregnant. We are also prioritising visit visa travellers and those who have lost their jobs or who have been sent on paid or unpaid leave,” he said.
Ali also spoke about flight operations and its complexities and how consulate staff have to carry out multi-tasking. “Since all Dubai-based PIA staff are in quarantine after their country head tested positive with the coronavirus, we are now carrying out all the necessary arrangements for the smooth repatriation of stranded Pakistanis. The PIA staff are also helping us remotely and we are really appreciate their efforts,” he added.
Amjad Ali pointed that the ticket prices are being decided by the PIA head office in Pakistan and they only follow instructions. “In every PIA plane, 70 per cent of the seats are low-fares (AED810) while corporate economy seats fare are around Dhs1800,” he said.
He also criticised travel agents for cheating innocent Pakistanis by hiking price tickets when they are not even authorised to issue any tickets for special flights. “In this regard, we are asking community members that only those who get a phone call from the consulate are allowed to buy their tickets from designated places and only they are allowed to go on board,” he said.
Responding to food distribution to stranded community members, the Consul General lauded the contribution of kind Pakistanis who are helping with food items and funds to arrange food packages for the needy ones. “We have distributed around 15,000 food packages to needy Pakistanis in Dubai and Northern Emirates as we received thousands of ration requests on our social platforms and this will continue till the end of the Ramadan,” he said.
Amjad Ali pointed that the government of Pakistan has been gathering all its resources to start regular operation of its carriers, PIA and Air Blue, for all the emirates, which will be a massive relief especially for the stranded people. “We assure that the number of flights from UAE will increase in the coming weeks and we request community members to bear this with patience,” he said.
Recently, the United Arab Emirates sent an aid plane containing 14 metric tonnes of medical and food supplies to Pakistan to bolster the country’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The aid will assist approximately 7,000 medical professionals as they work to contain the virus.
Commenting on the aid delivery, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi, UAE Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, said: “As part of the bilateral cooperation that has underpinned the brotherly relations between our two countries for decades, the UAE is proud to extend assistance to Pakistan in furtherance of global solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.”
The UAE government has already initiated sterilisation procedures throughout the country with clear instructions for the general public to stay at home. The sterilisation drive has brought normal life in the nation to a complete standstill as roads and streets wore a deserted look.
As many as 1,600 community members have been repatriated through seven special flights by the national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) while two more flights are ready to take approximately 400-plus expatriates on Apr.28 to Karachi and Multan.
The first wave of a massive exercise to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Indians stuck abroad began Thursday, with two flights departing from the United Arab Emirates.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi has categorically denied any ‘backdoor diplomacy’ between Pakistan and India while lauding the role of the UAE leadership for 50 years of brotherly relationship with Pakistan.
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is holding diverse events during Ramadan in line with its customary practice during the Holy month.
The country of 1.3 billion people added a record-high of 261,500 new cases on Sunday, with one-in-six people who underwent tests returning positive coronavirus results, the ministry said.