KABUL: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan has declared a national day of mourning to honor hundreds of citizens who lost their lives in the tragic sinking of a fishing trawler off the Greek coast.
The boat, overcrowded with migrants from Syria, Egypt, the Palestinian territories, and Pakistan, was carrying approximately 750 individuals who were attempting to reunite with their relatives in Europe. The Greek coast guard has defended its response to the disaster, which tragically resulted in the presumed drowning of over 500 migrants. The incident occurred on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Sharif expressed deep grief over the tragedy and announced that Monday would be observed as a day of mourning, with the national flag flying at half-staff. The exact number of Pakistani nationals onboard the vessel, as well as the survivors and casualties, has not been officially confirmed, although the Pakistani embassy in Athens has identified 12 nationals who were rescued by the coast guard.
Greek authorities have faced criticism for their perceived delay in taking action. While they claim that the migrants insisted they did not require assistance, non-governmental organizations assert that they received multiple distress calls for help. The sinking represents one of the most devastating disasters of its kind this year.
In a separate development, police in Pakistan-administered Kashmir announced the arrest of 12 individuals involved in facilitating the travel of local youths to Libya as part of their onward journey to Europe. The suspects were apprehended as part of a crackdown on human traffickers, with authorities interrogating them regarding their alleged roles in luring, trapping, and exploiting locals before sending them abroad in exchange for substantial sums of money.
According to officials, approximately 28 individuals from the Koi Ratta area in the district of Kotli have reportedly traveled to Libya for onward passage to Europe. However, there is still no confirmed information regarding the number of young men from the area who were aboard the ill-fated boat, or how many may be among the deceased or missing.