LONDON / MANCHESTER: Despite charter flights and emergency measures, some Pakistani students traveling to the UK for higher studies remain displaced, waiting for help from the authorities in Islamabad.
The British government on March 23 announced a national closure with travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of international students from various countries, including Pakistan, were unable to leave due to the cancellation of flight operations.
Speak to News, Fawad Ahmed Malik, a student at the University of Hertfordshire who has studied supply chain operations and management since January 2019, said flights were booked for May 1, from Heathrow Airport in London to Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore.
“I tried contacting PIA [Pakistan International Airlines] “to confirm my flight time but they didn’t answer my calls or respond to my emails,” Malik said.
“The Pakistan High Commission hasn’t replied to my email. They just sent me an automatic response.
“So far no one from the PIA or the High Commission has contacted me. My parents in Islamabad are also worried because I have no money at all to eat or live,” he added.
Malik called on the Pakistan High Commission in London to arrange for his departure or accommodation in Britain.
High Commission notifies Geo.tv that they have appointed First Secretary Muhammad Aneel Zafar specifically for student affairs and published it in the media and on the Mission website.
“Fawad Ahmed Malik sent an email to the London High Commission on April 29 for his return to Pakistan. His email was responded to [to with the message] that his request was registered, “said the High Commission spokesman.
“Responding to the High Commission’s press release on March 25, stranded Pakistanis have registered with the High Commission since then. More than 1800 stranded Pakistanis are registered with us.
“Priority is given as stated in the High Commissioner’s message to the public. By paying attention to the situation of students, the High Commission will provide the necessary support to it,” the spokesman added.
PIA PK-758 flight from London to Lahore is scheduled to bring Pakistanis who were stranded from Britain on May 1 but was canceled without notice to their passengers. Many people are still in limbo over their future in the UK and are regularly in contact with national operators and the Commission.
Speak to News, a PIA spokesman said: “Regular flight operations to and from Pakistan have been suspended until May 16. The PIA flew special flights after obtaining permission from the Pakistani government to repatriate stranded Pakistanis from around the world.
“For all passengers who have made reservations before the outbreak of COVID-19 is postponed, and will be accommodated when flight operations are normalized. This special flight can be called a charter and is operated on the orders of the Pakistani government.
“The last two flights were operated on April 23 and May 1 from the UK to Pakistan and brought back 250 passengers on each flight carrying passengers who had registered with PHC [Pakistan High Commission in the] Britain, “said a PIA spokesman.
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