Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Pakistan has thus far facilitated evacuation of 3,234 people: Qureshi

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday very few embassies are functioning in Kabul after the Taliban seized control of war-ravaged Afghanistan.

“Perhaps five embassies are working in Kabul and Pakistan’s embassy is one of those,” FM Qureshi said at a press conference in Islamabad.

By and large, there is calm in Kabul but Kabul airport faces pressure with thousands of people stranded there struggling to fly out of the country, he added.

He said the government has set up an evacuation operation cell at the Interior Ministry which has been working since August 16 with all the stakeholders, including representatives of the foreign and interior ministries, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Federal Investigation agency (FIA), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Islamabad police brought under one roof.

“The idea to put them together is to accelerate inter-ministerial coordination for a quicker response,” the foreign minister explained. “We are trying to facilitate the movement of evacuees coming in by air or land.”

Since August 16, five PIA flights had evacuated 542 foreign nationals and 91 Pakistanis from Kabul, he pointed out, adding Pakistan was also giving permissions for overflights in addition to allowing its airspace to be used for the evacuation purpose.

56 such permissions have been granted in addition to permissions for landing, Qureshi detailed.

So far, he said nationals of 28 countries have benefited from the facilities Pakistan has been providing in respect of evacuations. In total, Pakistan has thus far facilitated the evacuation of 3,234 people, 323 of them are Pakistanis while the rest foreigners.

FM Qureshi reiterated that Islamabad desires peace and instability in Afghanistan and working for an inclusive arrangement in the war-torn country.

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