ISLAMABAD - Pakistan government which a couple of days ago seemed to be in mood to rush for assisting foreign friends over Yemen trouble has finally awoken to its own nationals plight who remain stranded in the trouble-torn Middle Eastern country, following growing appeals of Pakistanis in Yemen on social and mainstream media to rescue them.

A day after Defence Minister Khwaja Asif reiterated that Pakistan will defend Saudi Arabia's territorial integrity against any aggression, Foreign Office on Saturday sounded ‘worried’ about over 3,000 stranded Pakistanis. It directed them to rush to Al-Hudaydah, the fourth largest city of Yemen, so they could be airlifted to Pakistan through a PIA flight that will leave for Yemen today.

Countries like the US, the UK, France and Germany had asked their citizens to leave Yemen in mid February, long before things got this much worse. Pakistan, like India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Somalia, has sensed the gravity of the situation only now when evacuations have become quite difficult and risky for people trapped in war zones in the troubled country.

"All our citizens in Yemen have been asked to reach Hudaydah for evacuation to Pakistan. Already, around 1,000 Pakistanis are on their way to the city," Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told The Nation Saturday. Following the directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, she said, two PIA planes were on stand-by and Pakistan Embassy in Sana'a plans to move 500 people in convoy of 12 buses to Hudaidah Saturday, where the airport is functional.

She said every possible effort was being made for safe evacuation of Pakistani citizens and Embassy personnel from Yemen. About the exact number of stranded Pakistanis in Yemen, the spokesperson told The Nation that around 3,000 Pakistanis were in Yemen and our Embassy was working to ascertain the exact number of Pakistanis stranded there.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz also told the media that around 3,000 Pakistanis were living in Yemen and every possible effort was being made for their safe exit. A spokesperson of the PIA said the first PIA flight will leave for Yemen today (Sunday) to airlift Pakistanis, adding special arrangements have been made for the purpose.

According to Tasnim Aslam, the main airports in Yemen are dysfunctional while land and sea routes are unsafe. "We are also in contact with all neighboring countries of Yemen for evacuation of Pakistanis there without visa by any safe means", she tweeted on the social networking website Twitter. She said that citizens of many other countries were also stranded and Pakistan was also in contact with them for possible joint movement of people in convoys under security.

"Our Embassy in Sana'a is exploring all possible options for evacuation of our citizens as soon as it is feasible, given the flights situation,” she said. The spokeswoman claimed Pakistani citizens in Yemen were advised in the last two months to evacuate. However, she stated that all efforts for safety of those who do not want to leave are being made.

In view of the situation in Yemen, she said that Pakistanis are being taken to safer cities in Yemen from where PIA special flights will be arranged to bring them back home. A Crisis Management Cell (CMC) has also been established in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate arrangements for evacuation.

According to her, all those in need of assistance in the context of evacuation of Pakistanis from Yemen may contact the CMC at Tel: 51-90569119, Tel: 51-90569346, Fax: 51-9217828 and E-mail: She said that the Embassy of Pakistan in Sana'a was making all possible efforts to facilitate the Pakistanis who wish to be evacuated.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also had a telephonic contact with his Saudi counterpart on Saturday.

The Saudi Defence Minister assured that evacuation of stranded Pakistanis will be taken care of as Saudi citizens and all routes viz land, sea and air will be used.

The Saudi govt is in contact with Pak embassy in Riyadh.

Monitoring Desk adds: Two Pakistani women stranded in Yemen capital Sana’a have appealed to Pakistan government to rescue them as first batch of 500 Pakistanis stranded in Sana’a left for Hudaydah.

In an interview with a Pakistani TV channel, the women said that they and their kids were stuck in their homes and had no idea where to go. They said that Yemen looked like ‘Karbala’ to them. “Houthi rebels are target-killing Pakistanis”, they said. “More lives may be lost if Pakistan government didn’t help on emergency basis,” they added.

Principal of a Pakistani school in Yemen Mrs Samina said that the conditions were getting worse with every day passing. “There is bombing everywhere. Pakistanis have run out of grocery stocks as well,” she said. “Pakistanis are being threatened of being bombed,” said Shahzain from Adan. While Asim Khan, also from Adan, said that Pakistani community was in serious trouble and needed Pakistan government to rescue them.

Earlier on Saturday, Saudi Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who is supervising the campaign against Houthi militias in Yemen - sent three planes to evacuate a UN mission in the capital Sana’a. The UN mission demanded airspace to allow the planes to secure their evacuation from the Yemeni capital to Ethiopia. The evacuation was met with obstacles as Houthi militias prevented nearly 140 people from the UN mission from leaving by surrounding their base.