ISLAMABAD - As Pakistan restored international flight operations on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the airspace is being opened partially to help overseas workers who have suffered the most in the global pandemic.

In his tweets, the Prime Minister also appreciated the overseas Pakistanis for showing great courage. He said that Pakistanis living abroad have been a source of inspiration and have continued to help their brothers and sisters during this difficult time.

He said that the government would facilitate the workers in every way.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for Aviation division said the international flight operations resumed in the country on Saturday would be subject to restrictions in light of the current COVID-19 scenario and implementation of health protocols.

In a statement the spokesperson said that cargo, special and diplomatic flights would continue to be authorised as per procedure and adherence to the relevant applicable standard operating procedures would be mandatory for all airline operators.

The development followed a few days after Special Assistant to Prime Minister Zulfi Bukhari had apprised the federal cabinet on the plight of overseas Pakistanis.

According to sources, Bukhari, in a cabinet meeting, said that nearly 200,000 Pakistanis overseas have become unemployed.

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, in a Twitter post, announced the resumption of flights on all airports, except Gawadar and Turbat.

“Government of Pakistan has authorized International Flight Operations to/from All International Airports of Pakistan except Gwadar and Turbat airports, with effect from June 20, 2020,” it said. Under a new policy, around 40,000 to 45,000 Pakistanis will return to the country every week and all stranded citizens will be home in a month.

“The federal government, in consultation with the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and the provinces, has formulated a new comprehensive policy for the repatriation of the Pakistanis stuck abroad,” Special Assistant to the PM on National Security and Strategic Policy Dr Moeed Yusuf said at a news conference, earlier this week.

“Under the new policy, only symptomatic passengers will be tested and if found they positive, they will be quarantined at the facilities provided by the government,” he added. “However, it will be mandatory for every passenger to quarantine themselves for 14 days at home and they will have to submit this in writing at the airport.”

The SAPM explained that the provinces through the track and trace system would keep an eye on these passengers and those found in violation would be penalised in accordance with law.