The cast and crew of Mohib Mirza’s film Ishrat: Made in China finally arrived in Islamabad through a special PIA flight on Wednesday.
The actors and film’s production team had been stranded in Thailand for weeks after flights to Pakistan were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, it seems like the cast and crew are facing a new set of difficulties. According to actor Shamoon Abbasi, they had been struggling to return home for two weeks before this special flight had been organised.
Talking to SAMAA Digital, he said that the embassy in Thailand and PIA charged them and other travellers Rs112,000 for the return flight and accommodation in Islamabad.
“We were told that the money included a two-day stay at a hotel, during which we would also get tested for the coronavirus,” he said.
Abbasi claims that they had to pay more than Rs2.3 million for 21 members of the cast and crew. “We landed at Islamabad airport around 11pm and were taken to a hotel in Islamabad around 4am, this was a decision taken by the management, not us,” he said. “Initially, we were told that our COVID-19 tests would be done in the morning and depending on the results, we would be kept in quarantine or be allowed to go home.”
However, this was not done. According to Abbasi, they were later informed that they would get tested in a week due to the unavailability of the test kits.
Now, the actor claims that they are being threatened by the hotel to pay up or get out.
In a video message that he shared with SAMAA Digital, Abbasi said: “You must have seen videos of people who have returned from Thailand protesting at hotels because they have been threatened by the management to pay up or go to Haji Camp. Our team has been getting similar threats.”
Besides the cast and crew, he said, the hotel they were staying at also had members of the Tableeghi Jamaat, elderly men and women and women with young children.
Abbasi said that he was sad that people were using this crisis to make money. “We need support each other, not behave in this manner,” he added.
Actor Sanam Saeed, too, wasn't pleased with the quarantine arrangements. She shared her experience on Twitter.
Misinformed— Sanam Saeed (@sanammodysaeed) April 16, 2020
- Travelers already stressed, nervous & financially exhausted after managing 2 weeks of lockdown abroad.
- PIA ticket back cost 111k each.
- Embassy assured people upon arrival the Govt will accommodate us free of cost while we wait 2 days for test & results.