The bodies of 11 Pakistani citizens who died when a smuggler’s boat capsized near Libya earlier this month were flown to Islamabad on Wednesday.
A Saudi Arabian Airlines plane carrying the bodies from Libya via Jeddah landed at Benazir International Airport in the evening.
However, the relatives of the deceased who had gathered at the airport’s cargo gate to collect the bodies of their loved ones — most of whom hailed from Gujar Khan, Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin — were reportedly mistreated by the airport staff.
Ambulances, as well as media representatives, were also forbidden from getting past the airport gate.
On February 2, it was reported that at least 90 people, believed to be migrants, had drowned after a boat sank near the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea.
Initial reports said 11 Pakistani citizens were among the dead. However, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal later revealed that at least 16 Pakistani citizens had drowned in the incident.
Talking to reporters after the bodies had been handed over to the families of the deceased, director of the Libyan Crisis Cell said the remaining bodies of Pakistanis will arrive in 10-15 days.
He said the Foreign Office had borne the cost of bringing the bodies home, from international travel to arranging the ambulances.
The official said relevant departments must take measures in order to curb human smuggling. They urged the government to improve education standards in the country and provide better economic opportunities to citizens so that they do not look for illegal ways to leave the country.