Pak preparing to receive 4K evacuees from Afghanistan

Pakistan preparing to receive 4,000 evacuees from Afghanistan

Officials said that security has also been increased around the airport and the main highway linking the airport with the capital

Officials said that initially five special flights are expected to land in Karachi on Saturday. Credit: AFP Photo

Pakistan is preparing to receive nearly 4,000 evacuees from Afghanistan, mostly Afghan nationals, as transiting passengers to stay for a limited period, officials said on Friday.

The US embassy had requested the Pakistan government to help in the evacuation efforts ahead of the August 31 deadline to completely withdraw from Afghanistan to cap its longest foreign war, spanning over 20 years after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Officials said that the Embassy sought permission for landing or transiting the passengers under three categories: US diplomats/citizens, Afghan nationals and people from other countries.

About 4,000 people, including the Afghans who supported the NATO forces during the war, will be brought to Karachi and Islamabad for stay before being flown to the US.

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The Islamabad administration was taking measures to settle the incoming people and it ordered more than 150 hotels in the capital and neighbouring Rawalpindi to stop booking local guests in order to accommodate the foreigners for about three weeks.

Officials said that security has also been increased around the airport and the main highway linking the airport with the capital.

The Sindh provincial government was also making arrangements for boarding and lodging of the passengers in Karachi. Two hotels and marquees surrounding the Karachi airport have been identified by the administration for hosting people coming from Afghanistan.

Officials said that initially five special flights are expected to land in Karachi on Saturday, followed by flights to Islamabad and other cities like Multan, Faisalabad and Peshawar.

The passengers will be transported to the designated hotels and guest-houses and stay there until availability of onward flights. Karachi will be the major destination where nearly 2,000 passengers will be brought from Kabul.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed told reporters in Lahore that the Pakistan government is providing a 21-day transit visa to diplomats to the world organisations, NGOs officials and the journalists stuck in Afghanistan.

He said the government has so far issued some 3,000 transit visas to the people coming from Afghanistan.

A senior official of the government told PTI that some public sector universities in Lahore have been asked make arrangements to accommodate up to 15,000 people from Afghanistan in coming days.

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"In addition to accommodating the people coming from Afghanistan at the campuses of the public sector varsities, some hotels in Lahore are also directed to cancel bookings for locals to accommodate them,” the official said.

He further said those coming from Afghanistan in the current crisis will not be allowed to roam in the city. “They will be confined to the place of their stay,” he said.

Repoprtedly the Afghan refugees started pouring in in Islamabad on Friday.

Rasheed further said the people coming from Afghans have initially been allowed to land at the two airports of Islamabad.

"Guests coming from Afghanistan will stay here on their own expense," the minister said in a reply to a question about who would bear the expense of their living here. 

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