Friday, January 31, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties slammed the government on Friday for not repatriating Pakistanis stranded in Wuhan and at risk of contracting the coronavirus.
The criticism from opposition lawmakers came during a session of the Senate where the outbreak of the disease in Wuhan and the measures that the government had taken were discussed.
Leader of the House Senator Shibli Faraz said the government had deposited $840 into the bank accounts of Pakistani students. He said the Chinese government was taking care of Pakistanis stranded in Wuhan.
Senator Mushahidullah of the PML-N criticised the government for not doing anything to evacuate Pakistani students from China. He said that the mothers of those students in Pakistan were "upset and crying" out of worry for their children. He said that important issues were being ignored by authorities.
"Pakistan has the largest embassy in China," he said. "People there [in the embassy] don't seem active."
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Siraj ul Haq urged authorities to keep contact with parents of the Pakistani students stranded in China. He said that it was unfortunate that the students were running out of money.
PPP leader and former interior minister Rehman Malik said the government should send a special plane to bring back Pakistanis from Wuhan. He said if there was risk of the disease spreading in Pakistan then a proper screening process should be conducted so that the virus is contained.
Earlier, the government said it would not evacuate Pakistani students stranded in Wuhan as it was not advisable to do so. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said during a press conference that government will not become a part in spreading the virus.
He said the government stands with its Chinese counterpart and would respect the directions of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Beijing.
"We don't want to take any emotional decision which will cause this virus to spread further," he said. "It is also our responsibility to ensure that our citizens in Wuhan are being properly taken care of and see to it whether they are being provided food or items of daily use or not," he added.