US starts land evacuation

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WASHINGTON: As Pakistan takes centre stage in the effort to evacuate stranded people from Afghanistan, the United States confirmed on Monday that it has facilitated the evacuation of four US citizens via the land route.

“Our embassy greeted the Americans as they crossed the border into the third country,” a senior US State Department official told CNN.

The official confirmed that these were the first four Americans that “we’ve facilitated in this manner” since the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. The official did not identify the country the US used to facilitate the evacuation, but Pakistan is the closest land route out of Afghanistan.

“We don’t know what route they used but we have no problem facilitating the evacuation of US citizens from Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Dr Asad Majeed Khan told. “Pakistan has been providing every support that it could to facilitate the evacuation of all those wanting to leave Afghanistan.”

Ambassador Khan said that so far more than 9,000 people had transited through Pakistan and Islamabad was still engaged with the international community to facilitate those evacuations.

Several US media outlets also carried out reports this week, underlining Pakistan’s central role in these evacuation efforts.

“The ‘story’ is moving inexorably to the next stage. The theme will be geography, and the major player will become Pakistan,” said one such report.