Islamabad - With successful evacuation of more over 500 Pakistanis stranded in war-torn Yemen by a PIA plane on Sunday, Islamabad has approached Beijing for help in safe and expeditious evacuation of nearly 2,500 Pakistani nationals through Aden-based Chinese companies.

A Boeing-747 jumbo jet of the Pakistan International Airline, dispatched to the Hudaydah city of Yemen, arrived on Sunday night at Jinnah International Airport of Karachi with 502 evacuees on board, sources in the airline said.

The rescued people were very excited and some of them were seen chanting slogans in favour of the government of Pakistan. An evacuee told a private TV channel at the airport that they have forgotten all the hardship they faced in Yemen after arriving in their motherland safely. Moving scenes were seen at the airport when people waiting for hours for their dear ones finally received them with tearful eyes and happy faces.

There are up to 200 Pakistanis  stranded in Aden, according to the Foreign Office. More than one hundred Pakistanis will travel from Aden for Moqallaa by road where a plane will go on Tuesday to bring them back to the country. The PIA has readied its second aircraft, a smaller plane with a capacity of 230 passengers to dispatch to Saudi Arabia for bringing back second batch of stranded Pakistani nationals in Yemen hopefully by Tuesday.

Pakistan has also sought help of Chinese officials in Aden to facilitate Pakistani nationals so that they could safely board Pakistan’s Navy frigate sent to Gulf of Aden to use the Aden port city as a potential exit point through sea to evacuate Pakistani nationals stranded in Yemen. The frigate will remain on stand-by in the Gulf of Aden and if the need arose, will participate in the evacuations.

The Boeing-747, which left for Al-Hudaydah in wee hours of Sunday, landed at Karachi airport around 11:30PM. It was sent to Al-Hudaydah airport after getting clearance from Saudi authorities, who have declared the area no-fly zone.

Earlier in the day, a convoy of 600 Pakistanis reached Al-Hudaydah after escaping from the embattled Yemeni capital Sanaa to leave for Pakistan. The convoy was inspected heavily by the Yemeni armed forces as well as the Houthi militia before it was permitted to exit Sanaa.

Pakistan’s ambassador to Yemen Dr Irfan Shami had said earlier that 482 Pakistanis will be evacuated on the first flight. He maintained that around 1,000 Pakistanis will be evacuated and sent to Pakistan in a span of two days. Women and children will be transported first; the ambassador told the state owned PTV. There was no electricity at the airport in Al-Hudaydah and neither any working machinery; hence, all paper work for passengers was done manually. The stranded Pakistanis were delighted to see the airplane and began clapping and shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad!’ in excitement, Dr Irfan Shami said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was personally monitoring the evacuation and had directed the officials to ensure safe return of every citizen, a spokesman of Sharif’s office said. A report about the evacuation was also presented to the PM on Sunday. According to the spokesman of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the flight operations will be continued until all Pakistanis are evacuated from Yemen.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry last night told a media briefing that around 3,000 Pakistanis lived in Yemen with some 1,000 trying to leave the country. A convoy of 16 buses was carrying stranded Pakistanis from the capital of Sanaa to Hudaydah, he said, while some remained stranded in the southern government stronghold of Aden and were awaiting a lull in the fighting so they too could be rescued.

Restating Islamabad’s staunch support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Mr Chaudhry said a Pakistani delegation would soon leave for Riyadh, but dismissed the media reports that Islamabad would join the Saudi-led coalition bombing mission.