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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, on Friday, informed the National Assembly that all stranded expatriate Pakistanis would be brought back to the country till July 20.

Speaking in the National Assembly, he said that special flights are being operated for bringing back the stranded expatriate Pakistanis in Europe, France, Britain, Middle East, and other countries due to the Covid-19 restriction.

Terming the overseas Pakistanis, a great asset, he said that they sent record over $29 billion remittance during the last fiscal year, adding all-out efforts would be made to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis who want to come to the country for vacationing or any other purposes.

The minister said that the government was well aware about the difficulties of the overseas Pakistanis due to the Covid-19 restriction, adding the prime minister has given standing orders to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis.

He said international flights were restricted to 20 percent due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on our request, allowed 40 percent international flights, he added.

The minister said that a proposal has been sent to the NCOC for further relaxation of 60-70 per cent of overseas Pakistanis could be airlifted before EidulAzha and they could celebrate Eid with their families.

He said that special flights of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were being operated for bringing back Pakistanis from the Middle East.

As many as 54,116 overseas Pakistanis have been brought back so far to Pakistan through 290 special flights, he added.

He said that special arrangements were also made to bring back Pakistanis from London, Manchester, and Paris.

Earlier, speaking on a point of order, Khawaja SaadRafique of the PML-N strongly protested over delay in briefing to the opposition members by Education Minister ShafqatMehmood with regard to cancellation of examination.

The NA speaker had directed the education minister to give a briefing to the opposition who pressed for cancellation of the exams of matric and intermediate level students.

Rafique also staged a walkout from the House in protest against the delay by the minister.

Shafqat Mehmood, who was not present in the House, took to Twitter, and slammed the PML-N, saying the party which is breaking up, is playing politics with students to gain cheap popularity.

He criticised PML-N leaders, Ahsan Iqbal and SaadRafique, and said that they know that exams have already taken place in Balochistan and Sindh; therefore, other students cannot be treated differently.

“They know that the decision to take exams was taken unanimously by all federating units, including PML-N's government in AJK and PPP in Sindh… They know that students cannot be promoted on the basis of previous exams as there were no exams last year,” he tweeted.

He further said that SaadRafique and Ahsan Iqbal should know, if they claim to be educated that exams are the best measure of students' ability, adding it is crucial for students of class 12 to take the exams as they have to go to universities and professional colleges.

Mehmood wrote that the two leaders should know that after the 18th Amendment, out of the 30 educational boards across the country, only one board i.e. the Federal Boardof Intermediate and Secondary Education was given to the federal government, while the other boards are governed by the respective provinces and other bodies.

“Yet they [Ahsan Iqbal and SaadRafique] were pretending that one order from a federal minister can stop exams across the country. Again just a failed attempt at cheap politics," the minister wrote, while censuring the statements of the PML-N leaders.

Mehmood reminded students that exams would be commencing from today (July 10) in the remaining provinces and federating units.

A day earlier, Ahsan Iqbal, while speaking during a session of the National Assembly, had said that “hundreds of students are depressed and are forced to commit suicide because of the pressure of exams.”

On the other hand, Rafique said, politics should not be involved in the sensitive issue of Intermediate examinations.

He demanded a six to eight weeks delay in the conduct of examinations.

Later, the Speaker National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, adjourned the proceeding of the House after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Sheikh Fayyaz Ud Din pointed out the quorum. The House would meet again on Monday at 4:30 pm.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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