Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the government’s first priority is to bring back Pakistanis who are stuck in transit after the National Coordinating Committee has allowed flight operations to be restored.
“The government will gradually bring back Pakistanis who are stuck abroad,” said Qureshi. “The National Coordinating Committee approved the restoration of 17 flights on Wednesday. A flight schedule for international flights was announced April 4-11.
The foreign minister said the government’s first priority is to bring Pakistanis stranded in transit back. “Those with expired visas are our second priority, and then those Pakistanis and students who are waiting abroad to return to the country would be evacuated,” he noted.
Qureshi added that all passengers arriving in the country would undergo a corona test at the airport, which would increase test and quarantine capacities.
“If the protocol is strictly followed, we will consider resuming flights for Karachi too,” he said.
A day earlier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had been given permission to partially resume operations to repatriate citizens stranded abroad.
In the first phase of operations, PIA will return a limited number of Pakistani travelers, a national airline spokesman said in an announcement.
PIA will initially fly stranded passengers from Canada and the UK who should travel to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, the spokesman said.
Limited flight operations from Toronto will resume on April 3, while operations from the UK will resume on April 4.
All return flights will initially land at Islamabad Airport, the spokesman said. Once the flights land, all passengers are tested in the airport lounges and taken to a local hotel for six hours.