Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will be operating special flights to Doha to bring back stranded Pakistani pilgrims in the wake of the ongoing diplomatic rift in the Gulf. The Dawn quoted the statement issued by CEO Nayyar Hayat that Pakistan International Airlines had directed that special flights be arranged for the pilgrims. During Ramadan, Pakistani pilgrims who were traveling to Saudi Arabia for Umrah via Qatar were stranded in Doha after several countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Hayat has asked the Doha manager to coordinate with the Pakistanis stranded in Qatar. PIA officials in Doha have also been directed to contact the Pakistani embassy in Doha. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain ended diplomatic relations and all land sea and air contacts with fellow Gulf Arab state Qatar over allegations that the latter is encouraging terrorism and extremism.
Riyadh accused Qatar of backing terrorism and extremism, while Bahrain charged Qatar with interfering in it internal affairs, according to a report published by The Guardian. Saudi Arabia had decided to sever diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar “proceeding from the exercise of its sovereign right guaranteed by international law and the protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism,” the report said.