Pakistan government breaks silence over repatriation of Pakistanis from China over Coronavirus
ISLAMABAD - The government has decided not to repatriate Pakistani citizens stranded in China in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza announced on Thursday.
“We believe that right now, it is in the interest of our loved ones in China to stay there. It is in the larger interest of the region, world, country that we don’t evacuate them now,” he told reporters at a press conference in Islamabad.
“This is what the World Health Organisation is saying, this is China’s policy and this is our policy as well. We stand by China in full solidarity,” he declared.
“Right now the government of China has contained this epidemic in Wuhan city. If we act irresponsibly and start evacuating people from there, this epidemic will spread all over the world like wildfire.”
“So far, China has not allowed evacuation [of people],” he said. “You will, of course, remind me the United States has evacuated its diplomatic staff — not all citizens. This is a condition of the Vienna Convention which dictates that the host country can allow diplomats to leave if their country wishes for them to return.”
Earlier, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that the government had complete data of Pakistani students currently in China and was in touch with Chinese authorities to address any challenges the students may be facing.
Farooqui was addressing the outbreak of the coronavirus that has killed around 170 people in China and has been detected in many other countries including India, Japan, Canada and the United States, among others.
During a weekly press briefing, Farooqui gave assurances that the “Pakistani government was making an all-out effort for its citizens” stranded in China and was doing everything to assist them. She clarified that other countries were also in contact with China but none had attempted to repatriate its citizens.
The FO spokesperson said the government was aware that some Pakistani citizens were stranded on the Urumqi airport, adding that it was due to a flight delay. The government had contacted Chinese authorities and had requested them to “take care” of the Pakistani citizens, Farooqui told reporters.
Farooqui lauded the Chinese government’s efforts to deal with the outbreak of the coronavirus and said Pakistan stood by China in this difficult time.