PETALING JAYA: About 320 Pakistan nationals, who were detained for immigration-related offences, have returned home just in time for Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Initially, there was uncertainty whether they could be home for the celebration since there was no direct flight to Pakistan since February.
Pakistan had barred flights passing through Indian airspace to get into its territory following the escalated tension between the two countries.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, however, stepped in by issuing special directives to have the former detainees flown back to celebrate the festivities with their families.
Acting Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia Atif Sharif said Pakistan International Airlines then made a special flight to fly them to Islamabad yesterday.
He said in the past, there was no such problem as there were direct flights between Malaysia and Pakistan.
“We have many Pakistanis coming to Malaysia because the visa process is easy.
“Some, however, overstayed because they are unable to get jobs and most of them, about 60%, were also cheated by their agents.
“Our Prime Minister is very sympathetic to Pakistanis imprisoned abroad, which is why he instructed for the chartered plane to get them home,” he said.
The Pakistan government allocated about RM2mil for the repatriation of the 320 who were detained at Immigration depots nationwide.
Atif also hoped the Malaysian government would carry out another round of amnesty so that those who overstayed could return to Pakistan.
“A lot of people want to go back but the fine is about RM2,000 and the waiting time is a few months, so it would be easier if there was another amnesty programme,” he said.
Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said the department always cooperate with the Pakistan High Commission to ensure smooth handling of immigration matters.