Lahore, Feb 4(ANI): Pakistan's Ambassador to Cairo Seema Naqvi has become a virtual hurdle to the evacuation of Pakistanis from the riot-torn Egyptian capital by asking the Foreign Office to charge money for the act, diplomatic sources have confided.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had issued the evacuation directives on February 1 before the start of clashes between pro- and anti-Mubarak Egyptians, but the procrastination caused by Naqvi seems to have diminished the chances of a peaceful evacuation.
The sources said Naqvi had written to the Foreign Office on Thursday morning that the government should charge money from the passengers instead of giving the stranded citizens a free ride back home, since India and the United States had done so.
Talking to The Nation, the Pakistani envoy expressed certainty that the evacuation would be done "as the chance happens, since the embassy is at it."
However, she did mention that the situation was pretty tense, with protests impeding travel. "Nothing is in my hands since the situation is changing," Naqvi maintained.
About landing rights for the PIA, the envoy said: "We have already moved a letter to seek landing rights, and are still waiting for permission."
But then Naqvi contradicted her earlier remark by saying, "No need for permission since other flights are continuing to land and depart."
She admitted that she had asked the Foreign Office to charge money for evacuation, but quickly added: "Now they would not be charged," and also asserted that the time had not been lost, and that she had not run out of options.
Sources said Pakistanis could only be evacuated by Saturday or Sunday since the pro- and anti-Mubarak quarters have announced million marches of their own, which would clog Cairo streets if they materialised.
In view of the Pakistani embassy's apathy, about a hundred Pakistanis have fled the strife-stricken country on their own or with their employers' assistance, but over 700 Pakistanis registered with the diplomatic office till Thursday still await evacuation. (ANI)