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Racket fleecing expiates returning to Pakistan amidst Covid-19 pandemic

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Racket fleecing expiates returning to Pakistan amidst Covid-19 pandemic

TP 3 weeks ago
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Islamabad (TP) June 12, 2010: As the coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on the whole world, and as a result, a large number of overseas Pakistanis are returning to their country, many of them losing them jobs in their host countries, only to be greeted by an organized fleecing racket back Pakistan after they were already bitten by equally unabashed embassy officials in the name of the so-called Covid-19 SOPs and arrangements.

The overseas Pakistanis pay a heavy price for their return as an organized racket — backed by the vested interest including the embassy officials— has spread its hydra-headed tentacles to flees them starting their host countries to their very landing here in Pakistan before manage to reach their respective destinations, after being deprived of their hard-earned money by this mafia.

A Pakistani, Akmal Hussain, who returned to Pakistan from Qatar on a PIA flight two days back while talking to The Punch said that the government has left the overseas Pakistanis at the mercy of mafias including the national flag carrier PIA, hotel owners and transport companies, as according to him, expatriate Pakistanis are being fleeced by all and sundry in an organized manner in the name of Covid-19 SOPs and no one was there to listen to their grievances.

An inside picture of the PIA plane with unseated passengers

He said that he had been granted a one-and-a-half month leave by his company in Qatar and when he went to the Pakistan embay in Doha seeking a flight ticket to Pakistan, the press attaché told him that since they have put in place special protective measures to fly in the plane, he will have to pay an extra amount for the ticket. He said that the press attaché told him that since passengers are sit in the plane while keeping one seat empty to save them from contracting the coronavirus and that was why passengers were being charged extra.

According to Akmal, he purchased the flight ticket for 1800 Qatari riyal equaling Rs78,000, almost double the price of the actual ticket price, which is around Rs3500. He said that when he boarded the plane, he was shocked to see the PIA plane full to the brim with overcrowded passengers, as, according to him, they were put in the flight like cattle in sheer violation of the much-touted protected measures as claimed by the embassy officials.

He said that when he protested against the violation of Covid-19 SOPs in the plane, the PIA crew told him that they had no option but to take extra passengers home as they have to bring back maximum passengers. Akmal said that the PIA crew in charge strictly stopped passengers from taking pictures of the plane seating arrangements and the crowded passengers, threatening to disembark them from the plane before it took off.

According to Akmal, who hailed from district Nagar in Gilgit-Baltistan, after landing at the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar, when he along with other passengers came out of the airport after immigration clearance, a horde of shouting and vulture type people started raising voracious slogans asking them whether they wanted to stay in private or government-run quarantine centres.

The expiate said that at the same time, touts of hotel and quarantine centre owners warned them against going to the government-run quarantine centres where they were at the high risk of contracting Covid-19, owing to poor arrangements.

“I opted for a private quarantine centre and reached a four-star hotel named Four Continental, where the hotel owner allocated me a room for Rs9,0000 per day. The hotel was charging Rs250 for a single disposable cup of team, Rs180 for a mineral water bottle and Rs1150 for single Qorma plate,” Akmal said.

“My swab was taken at the hotel for Covid-19 and they told me that the report will be served to me after 48 hours. I spent their three days in the private hotel but they did not provide me the report, making one or the other excuse only to extract more money from me. Finally, I contacted a private lab for my coronavirus test and they took my sample and delivered my result within 18 hours and I was tested negative for Covid-19,” he said adding that only then he got himself freed from the trap of the hotel mafia and departed to Islamabad.

Akmal said that other passengers, who had come from Qatar and other countries, were still stuck in private quarantine centres, waiting for their results. He said that this activity of the organized racket and the prolonged stay was making a hols in their pockets. Akmal said that during his single journey, he had to pay Rs125000 in extra.

“The US government and other donor agencies have given a hefty amount to the Imran Khan government to cope with the virus but his government has miserably failed to provide any relief to the people especially the overseas Pakistanis,” Akmal said, demanding that the authorities concerned look into the matter and save the people from being trapped and fleeced by the mafia.

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