A taxi driver who has been stranded with his family in Pakistan due to the lockdown claims his wife has been forced to pawn her jewellery to pay for food and essentials.
Aftab Alam Qureshi had been visiting family in Lahore in February and had been scheduled to return to the UK on March 15.
The Pakistani government had already began introducing restriction measures in the country as confirmed cases of Covid-19 increased days before the family were scheduled to return to the UK.
Speaking today Aftab said they had arrived at Lahore Airport to be informed their Qatar Airways flight was “cancelled”, before paying an additional £300 to extend the tickets for a later date.
The father-of-two showed the Evening Telegraph a number of plane tickets for the family for March 26, April 18 and April 25 which have all subsequently been cancelled.
He added: “This has been a nightmare, we’ve phoned the Foreign Office trying to get on these special chartered flights but the number keeps ringing out.
“The last of these flights is scheduled to leave Lahore on April 26 and at this stage I fear we’ll miss that.”
Aftab, whose family are packed and ready to go, has also called the London office for Qatar Airways, but claims he has been given “contrasting information”.
He added: “The family we have here are retired and we can’t expect them to financially support us. My wife had to pawn some of her jewellery for additional cash whilst we remain here.
“I’m aware there are other families from Tayside who are also in this situation that they can’t return to the UK.
“Some are paying well over the odds to get a flight home, I’ve heard as much as £1,500 per ticket.
“The London office for Qatar have said flights are leaving Lahore as scheduled yet when we arrive at the airport they have been cancelled.”
“I will continue to contact Qatar Airways and Foreign Office to get us home safely.”
Christian Turner, British High Commissioner to Pakistan, said there had been a “huge effort” to get those Brits home stranded in Pakistan.
He added: “I know how stressful and difficult the suspension of Pakistan’s international flights has been, leaving so many British travellers unable to get home.
“There has been a huge effort from the teams across the Pakistan network to help people to return to the UK.”
Qatar Airways had been approached for comment but had not responded at the time of going to press.