Repatriation of Pakistanis from UAE ends after 'biggest ever' send-home operation

In this file photo, Pakistani nationals check in at the Dubai International Airport before leaving the Gulf Emirate on a flight back to their country, on May 7, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis. (AFP)
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Updated 28 June 2020

Repatriation of Pakistanis from UAE ends after 'biggest ever' send-home operation

  • Consul general says 30,000 Pakistanis in Dubai and 20,000 in Abu Dhabi were flown home following coronavirus outbreak
  • Says role of the consulate has ended; but will continue helping those in need

DUBAI: Pakistan has completed its ‘biggest ever’ repatriation operation by flying thousands of stranded Pakistanis back home from Dubai and the Northern Emirates over the last four months, Pakistan’s Consul General to Dubai, Ahmed Amjad Ali, said on Saturday.
In March, the consulate had asked all Pakistani nationals who wanted to leave the UAE to formally register with the embassy. Subsequently, according to data available with the consulate, 80,000 Pakistanis had signed up, most of whom had either been laid off or furloughed following the outbreak of coronavirus.
“This was the biggest ever repatriation operation undertaken by Pakistan anywhere overseas and Pakistan was the first country to start sending its nationals home,” Ali said in a presser at the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai.
“All those who had registered with us have flown out,” he said.
Through Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and three FlyDubai special flights, 30,229 Pakistanis stranded in Dubai had been sent back to Pakistan, he added, and another 20,000 Pakistanis had been flown out of Abu Dhabi.
“We have no data for those who traveled by other UAE airlines but I estimate the number to be at 10,000,” he said.
“At this point, the role of the consulate has ended but we will continue helping those in need.”
The consulate also provided accommodation and food to 460 homeless Pakistani nationals, given free tickets home to 561 poor citizens, and transported 208 dead bodies in the same time period, the consul general added.
Ali said the consulate would restart normal consular services from July 1.
The number of Pakistanis wishing to return home has dropped since Dubai began easing lockdown measures and opening up over the past month.
Last month, it was reported hundreds of passengers coming home to Pakistan from around the world were testing positive for coronavirus after landing-- including those from the UAE according to the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on National Security, Moeed Yusuf.
Speaking to local media, Yusuf said huge numbers of returning passengers from the UAE were infected because returnees were laborers who often live in cramped conditions in the Gulf country.


Pakistan thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting it in 'difficult times'

Updated 11 August 2020

Pakistan thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting it in 'difficult times'

  • Minister Shibli Faraz says the country cannot run independent foreign policy until it gains economic strength
  • Claims Pakistan’s economy has improved in the last two years due to the government’s prudent policies

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz thanked Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for always rescuing his country in difficult times while dismissing rumors of any differences between the two countries.
“Saudi Arabia has always been with us and we are thankful to them,” the minister said while briefing reporters here in Islamabad on various decisions made during the federal cabinet meeting earlier in the day that was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The minister said the Kingdom was a brotherly country that had “always stood by us in difficult times.”
He said that a lot of Pakistani labor was working in the Kingdom, adding that the two holiest sites of Islam were also located in the same country.
To a question about the reported return of $1 billion to Saudi Arabia, he said that the money taken as a loan. “It was taken and returned. This is not in our interest to link it [the loan issue] to other things,” he said.
Saudi Arabia extended a $6.2 billion financial package, including $3 billion cash as a soft loan and $3.2 billion of deferred oil payment facility, to Pakistan in November 2018 to help the country stave off its balance of payments crisis.
The minister said that the world was moving toward readjustment as the world order was changing, especially in the last few years.
Faraz said that like every other country, “Pakistan as a sovereign state will work in the direction and pursue objectives that reinforce its national interests.”
He also added that the country could not run an independent foreign policy without acquiring adequate economic strength.
Talking about the government’s economic achievements in the last two years, he said that Pakistan’s current account deficit was brought down from $20 billion to $3 billion while the central bank’s reserves had increased from $8.5 billion to $12.5 billion due to prudent economic policies.
The minister informed that sales of cement, fertilizers, diesel and petrol had increased many times in the last two years, reflecting an improvement of the country’s fragile economy.
He noted that the coronavirus pandemic had not hit the country’s economy as hard as other countries in the region.
“The economic revival has started … Difficult times have almost passed and better days are right ahead of us,” the minister claimed.