Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Operation Rahat winds down

11 Indians rescued by Pakistan navy to return by special flight; India winds down Operation Rahat

Eleven Indian nationals arrived in Karachi port on Tuesday, after sailing from Mokallah in Yemen, where they were rescued by Pakistani naval personnel onto the PNS Aslat.

Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif offered a special plane to transport them back to India, which was accepted by the Indian government. Last week, India had evacuated three Pakistani nationals from Al Hodeidah to Djibouti as part of its rescue mission for Indians.

At least 26 countries, including the U.S., UK, Russia and France, several Asian countries and nearly all SAARC countries requested and received Indian assistance to help evacuate their citizens from Yemen in the past week.

“U.S. citizens may be able to board Indian planes leaving from Sana’a to Djibouti,” announced the U.S. government’s travel advisory on Yemen, which noted that the U.S. government would not launch an evacuation effort for its citizens.

The government is now preparing to end its mammoth rescue mission Operation Rahat that has successfully brought out nearly all the 4,000 Indians and more than 230 foreign nationals stranded in the war-zone.

“We have not refused anyone,” said Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs General (Retd.) V.K. Singh.

Tuesday had been one of the most successful days for the operations, with more than 1,100 Indian citizens flown back home, on board three Air India flights and two IAF C-17 Globemasters while hundreds more boarded three Indian ships INS Mumbai, INS Tarkash and INS Sumitra from Yemen.

“We’ve faced innumerable difficulties with the operations, having to coordinate flights with three different ATCs (Air Traffic Controllers) in Sana’a, Djibouti and Jeddah, and that too in a conflict zone. But eventually it is the teamwork that paid off.” Gen. Singh said in a telephone interview to The Hindu from Djibouti.

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