Pakistan Evacuates Citizens from Yemen

Nearly 200 citizens were evacuated by Pakistan from war-torn Yemen today as the crisis was discussed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with his counterpart in Turkey. There were relieved smiles and tears at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad as the specially chartered plane of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) landed at the airport with 176 evacuees.

No decision has been made by Pakistan as yet regarding the request made by Riyadh for joining the coalition led by Saudis for fighting back Shite Huthi rebels who are attempting to take over Yemen. On Sunday, more than 500 Pakistanis were evacuated from Yemen and the latest evacuees have arrived from Dijbouti, where the Chinese navy had taken them via sea from Yemen. A mother of four said that they reside near the airport and had moved out when they some bullets came through the window two weeks ago. She said that her primary concern was ensuring that her children didn’t suffer from the trauma surrounding them.

According to Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, about 50 of the evacuees will go to Karachi from the total 176. Khawaja Asif, the Defense Minister spoke to the reporters and said that the number of Pakistani citizens still stranded in Yemen were between 200 and 250 and the government is doing all it can to bring them home in the next couple of days. The parliament of Pakistan will meet on Monday for deciding whether to accept or deny the request of joining the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the country.

Islamabad says that they are more than willing to defend the territorial integrity of Saudis, but they don’t want to inflame any sectarian divisions in the country. After the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had finished his talks with Ahmet Davutoglu, his Turkish counterpart, he encouraged the parties to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict rather than fighting.

The countries participating in the Yemen conflict are mostly Sunni Muslim and the leading Shite power, Iran, has strongly criticized the intervention. Not only do Iran and Pakistan share a border, but the latter also has a 20% Shite population.