By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 21 December 2014:
Pakistan’s ambassador to Libya said today that the country was maintaining a neutral stance politically . . .[restrict]whilst standing in solidarity with the Libyan people, with many Pakistanis continuing to live and work in the country.
“Pakistan would like to assure the Libyan people that, whilst maintaining a neutral stance, it stands solidly shoulder to shoulder with our Libyan brothers and sisters for peace and reconstruction,” ambassador Javed Zia said. “All Pakistanis are praying for the earliest reconciliation, stabilisation and resolution in all areas of conflict.”
He pointed out the the embassy had continued to operate with 100 percent of its staff throughout the events that took place over the summer, saying this set the Pakistan embassy apart from many others which had fled the capital.
Zia was speaking at a ceremony to recognise the efforts of both Libyans and Pakistanis during a series of mass evacuations conducted between 13 August and 4 November, which saw some 7,000 Pakistanis leave the country.
“The evacuation process could not have been completed had we not got the very generous and huge support from our Libyan brothers and sisters,” he said. The first evacuations were conducted using Pakistan International Airlines but, thereafter, planes were chartered from Libyan operator Buraq Air. Representatives of the airline were given several certificates of commendation for their contribution.
Those evacuated included 280 prisoners being held on charges of illegal immigration in jails located in areas where intense fighting took place in the summer.
“They were at the epicentre of the crisis, right where the fighting was, and we would like to thank the Libyan authorities for the humanitarian gesture they showed by releasing them, at our request, so they could be safely repatriated,” Zia said.
Many of those evacuated were “destitute” nationals, who had no current employment and labourers who had lost their jobs when fighting started, he said, explaining that some 12,000 Pakistanis chose to remain living and working in Libya. He added that some of the aircraft arriving to collect and repatriate nationals had even brought with them more Pakistanis ready to start new jobs in Libya, particularly teachers.
“We are already providing support in the fields of the education and medical sectors and other plans are in the pipeline, which can be activated once the situation here gets a little more stabilised,” Zia explained.