Friday, February 4
Pak Embassy in Egypt still in slumber
In a blatant violation of Premier Gilani’s orders, the Pakistani Ambassador has become a hurdle in the evacuation of Pakistanis from the riot-torn Egyptian capital Cairo since the lady is dillydallying through various messages to the foreign office back home, confided diplomatic sources.
Premier Gilani had issued evacuation directives on February 1 when the clashes between pro and anti-Mubarak Egyptians had not started, but now the options to peaceful exit are thinning out quickly, while Pakistan’s embassy is still in slumber.
As per the sources, these Pakistanis can only be evacuated on Saturday (tomorrow) or Sunday at the possible earliest because of two reasons. On Friday (today), both agitating quarters, that is, pro and anti-Mubarak Egyptians, have already announced that they both would stage one-million man march each; subsequently if it happens, this will bring two million people on the streets of Cairo, which would virtually clog every artery of the city. Secondly, today is a holiday, and the Pakistani Embassy cannot secure landing rights of the national airline till the highest offices of both countries talk to each other, which is a distant possibility.
Seeing this apathy of the Pakistan Embassy amid situation which is getting tense with every passing hour and day, about 100 Pakistanis had managed to flee the strife-stricken country using their own sources or have been airlifted by their employers, while still over 700 have been freshly registered with the diplomatic office till Thursday. Till Tuesday, the number was 800.
The sources further told The Nation that Ambassador Seema Naqvi had written to letter to the Foreign Office on Thursday morning that the government should charge money from the passengers since India and the US had done so instead of giving the stranded Pakistanis a free-ride back home. However, she did not quote examples of other countries, like Turkey, which valued their nationals more than a few thousand bucks. However, she changed her stance by the evening by asserting that the affording and non-affording should be bifurcated.
Gilani had also directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador of Pakistan in Cairo to facilitate and arrange the required logistics for ensuring that all Pakistani national’s are evacuated from Egypt, who may be feeling insecure in the given circumstances in Egypt and wanted to return home.
Till Tuesday, the Ambassador was acting like an incorrigible optimist and repeatedly asserted the situation would get better and the evacuation was delayed.
While talking to The Nation on Thursday, the Ambassador Seema Naqvi was not as cheerful as she was on February 1, and was apparently pretty certain that evacuation would be done “as the chance happens since the Embassy is at it.” However, she did mention that the situation was pretty tense for every Pakistani, and there was nothing certain about the curfew hours during which neither a flight could land, or leave. “Secondly, people have to come from Alexandria as well, and with Egyptians marking the ‘Day of Departure’ in two million, it is not an easy job,” she added.
Naqvi hoped that evacuation would be possible on either mornings of Saturday or Sunday. “Nothing is in my hands since the situation is changing,” said the uncertain Ambassador in certain terms.
When quizzed about landing rights to be given by the Egyptian authorities, she gave two statements. First, “We have already moved the letter to seek landing rights for PIA flights, and still waiting for permission.” Secondly, no need for permission since other flights are continuing to land and depart.” This shows perhaps, the landing rights are still to be acquired by the Embassy.
However, she accepted that she did write a letter to the Foreign Office asking for direction to charge money from the passengers. “Now they would not be charged,” she was quick to add.
Despite all this, she asserted that the time had not been lost, and she had not run out of the options. Perhaps, she seemed to be waiting for a messiah of her own to save the Pakistanis, whom she deemed to be safe!
Meanwhile, the Pakistanis have bitterly criticised the Pakistan Embassy in Cairo, Foreign Office and the Ministry for its slow and flawed response.