Over 300 Pakistanis jailed in Malaysia arrive home in time for Eid

Over 300 Pakistanis jailed in Malaysia arrive home in time for Eid
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Pakistan International Airlines flight carrying 320 Pakistani prisoners arrived in Islamabad from Malaysia on Wednesday night. (Photo Courtesy – ZulfiqarBukhari Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis)
Over 300 Pakistanis jailed in Malaysia arrive home in time for Eid
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Pakistan International Airlines flight carrying 320 Pakistani prisoners arrived in Islamabad from Malaysia on Wednesday night. (Photo Courtesy – ZulfiqarBukhari Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis)
Updated 30 May 2019

Over 300 Pakistanis jailed in Malaysia arrive home in time for Eid

Over 300 Pakistanis jailed in Malaysia arrive home in time for Eid
  • Repatriated prisoners received at Islamabad airport on Wednesday night by PM’s Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis
  • Would have reached sooner had it not been for the closure of parts of Pakistan’s airspace since February

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan International Airlines flight carrying 320 Pakistani prisoners arrived in Islamabad from Malaysia on Wednesday night, state media said on Thursday, just two days after Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the national carrier to ferry back the inmates in time to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr at home with their loved ones.
Pakistan on Tuesday said it had designated a special aircraft to bring home its nationals languishing in various jails across Malaysia.
Radio Pakistan reported that the former inmates were received at Islamabad International Airport by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, on Wednesday night.
After welcoming the Pakistanis, Bukhari said more prisoners would be released and returning home from various countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in the coming days.
Videos circulating on social media showed the ex-inmates inside the PIA carrier, chanting slogans of “Pakistan Zindabaad,” or long live Pakistan, before the plane landed.
The prisoners at Malaysian jails would have arrived home sooner had it not been for Pakistan closing its airspace in February after a suicide attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to aerial bombing missions on each other’s soil and a fighter dogfight over Kashmir.
Foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been since forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan. The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia.
Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor and the airspace restrictions impact hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day, adding flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.
“There are more than 320 Pakistani nationals in Malaysian jails who have completed their sentence and were unable to be repatriated, as direct flights got suspended in the last week of February 2019, owing to the regional situation,” the Pakistan government said in a statement this week, adding that a majority of the nationals had been imprisoned “due to expiry of visa or residence permits.”