New Delhi: Amid growing pressure to bring back its nationals, mostly students, from coronavirus-hit Hubei province, the Pakistan government has said it is closely monitoring the situation in China and will soon take a decision on their evacuation.
Pakistan came under criticism after it said that Pakistani students should not be evacuated from Wuhan as medical facilities back home do not meet the standards required to treat a patient diagnosed with coronavirus. The Pakistani nationals stuck in areas affected by the novel virus have been making requests to the government on social media platforms to evacuate them. “The matter is being considered at the high level and best possible decision would be taken after considering all possible aspects.
Rest assured that we care about you,” said Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health, on Sunday. Mirza said that the government has been keenly observing the situation in China, the Dawn newspaper reported. He said that all options were being explored and the government wanted to maintain a balance on the issue. “We have to consider all aspects including situation of the Pakistanis (in China), Chinese regulations and advisories of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
All the stakeholders are involved over the issue and we have kept all options open,” he said. Addressing students in China in a tweet, Mirza said, “My very dear students in China and your respectable family members, we are intensely discussing the situation at highest level and will make the best decision in view of all factors with reference to devastating coronavirus potential global pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi said that they could not reach the stranded Pakistani students in Wuhan due to the complete lockdown of the city, the capital of Hubei province. Pakistani officials are in contact with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing and Wuhan and will promptly reply to any query by a Pakistani citizen in China, she was quoted as saying by Geo News.
However, Pakistani nationals vent out their anger on social media after Mirza’s tweet, the Dawn report said. “Dear sir, if you care about us then please spend at least one day with us in Wuhan, China at least one day please after this we will never say to evacuate us. Please consider my suggestion thanks,” a Pakistani national living in Wuhan tweeted. Another Pakistani student tweeted, “it is a humble request not to tweet if you won’t change things.” The death toll in China due to the novel coronavirus increased to 908 and the number of confirmed cases surged over 40,000, Chinese health officials said on Monday. Five persons with symptoms of coronavirus were reported from Pakistan on Sunday after they arrived from a flight from China.
There were up to 800 Pakistanis studying in various universities in Wuhan – a city of 11 million people which has been quarantined by the Chinese authorities in an effort to stem the spread of the deadly virus. Earlier, Foreign Office said that there were 28,000 Pakistani students currently in China apart from hundreds of businessmen.