Nearly 200 Pakistanis were evacuated from war-torn Yemen Friday as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as discussions on the crisis were held with his counterpart in Turkey.
As the chartered Pakistan International Airlines plane arrived at the Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport with the 176 evacuees, Pakistan has yet to decide whether to accept Riyadh’s request for it to join the Saudi-led coalition fighting back Shiite Houthi rebels trying to take over Yemen.
The latest batch arrived from Djibouti, where more than 500 Pakistanis were evacuated Sunday, where they were taken by sea from Yemen by the Chinese navy.
A mother-of-four told AFP, “I live right next to the airport and even I got some bullets through my window about two weeks ago, so since then, I moved out. The main thing is I didn’t want my children to suffer from the trauma of what was going on around us.”
Fifty of the 176 would travel on to Karachi. Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority said.
There were between 200 and 250 Pakistanis stranded in Yemen and the government was trying to get them home within the next two days, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif reported.
Whether to join the military coalition initiated by close ally Saudi Arabia will be the main topic of the debate of Pakistan’s parliament, which will meet Monday.
Islamabad says it is prepared to defend Saudi territorial integrity but does not want to inflame sectarian division.
Sharif urged parties to the conflict to try to find a peaceful resolution, speaking in Turkey after talks with his counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu.
The intervention is strongly criticized by Iran, the leading Shiite power, countries taking part in the Yemen offensive are largely Sunni Muslim.
Pakistan shares a border with Iran, aside from having a 20 percent Shiite population,