Apr 14, 2020, 2:34 PM
Journalist ID: 2053
News Code: 83750721
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275 stranded Pakistani pilgrims to be repatriated from Iran

Islamabad, April 14, IRNA -- Pakistan’s minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) told a parliamentary panel that around 36,000 Pakistanis were currently stranded in Middle Eastern countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic adding the government will take all measures to repatriate 275 Pakistani pilgrims from Iran.

Pakistani media on Tuesday reported that the minister said this while briefing the parliamentary committee on coronavirus, which met here with National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noorul Haq Qadri and senior officials from the interior ministry also attended the meeting.

Speaker Asad Qaiser in his remarks said that due to the difficulties faced by Pakistanis abroad, including pilgrims, prisoners, Tablighi Jamaat members the government is making all efforts to bring back stranded Pakistanis.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the meeting that around 40,000 Pakistanis were currently stranded in different counties.

He said that as per data collected by the Foreign Office through its missions abroad, the total number of Pakistanis stranded was 39,748 and a majority of them were in the Middle East. He said the number of Pakistanis belonging to Tablighi Jamaat who were stranded abroad was 2,248.

Minister for SAFRON Shehryar Khan Afridi, who is also the convener of the subcommittee of the Special Committee, presented a report on its working.

He said representatives of Tablighi Jaamat and Zairean (pilgrims) were taken on board and their verified data was collected. He further said data of Pakistanis stranded abroad and registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and prisoners released by Oman and the UAE was also acquired from the MoFA.

He said as per data received from Tablighi Jamaat, the total number of Jamaat members stranded abroad and in Pakistan were 2,054 and 16,900, respectively, whereas 275 pilgrims were stranded in Iran and 727 in Pakistan in different quarantine facilities.

Afridi said 1,326 pilgrims had returned to their destination, adding that 36,000 Pakistanis were stranded in Dubai, Qatar, and Oman. He said the subcommittee was in contact with relevant quarters and would oversee the safe return of everyone to their respective destinations.

Official sources say Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will operate special flights from today to repatriate more than 1,800 Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui had said repatriation of stranded Pakistani pilgrims is the responsibility of the government and "we are in touch with the Iranian authorities in this regard".

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