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PIA to bring back Pakistani pilgrims stranded in Qatar

PTI | Islamabad |

Pakistan International Airlines will send special flights to bring back hundreds of Pakistani pilgrims stranded in Doha, a day after Saudi Arabia and other Arab powers severed diplomatic ties with Qatar.

According to a statement issued on Monday, PIA CEO Nayyar Hayat has asked the airline's Qatar manager to coordinate with the Pakistanis stranded in the country.

Hayat has directed that special flights will be arranged for the pilgrims, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Pakistan's national carrier PIA's officials in Doha have also been directed to contact the Pakistani embassy in Doha.

Pakistani pilgrims who were travelling 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 that is home to a major US military base, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and backing Iran.

It is being reported that hundreds of Pakistanis are stranded at the Doha airport.

Yesterday, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began withdrawing their diplomatic staff from Qatar and regional airlines announced they would suspend service to its capital, Doha.

The unprecedented measures against Doha include ordering Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days and banning citizens of the three Gulf states from travelling to Qatar.

The exact number of those left in Doha due to travel ban on Qatar is not known. The decision has plunged Qatar into chaos and ignited the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf since the 1991 war against Iraq.

Qatar has criticised the move as a "violation of its sovereignty.