IHC instructs MOFAbto review decision on stranded Pakistanis in virus-hit China
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review the decision of not evacuating Pakistani citizens from virus-hit China.
“We are not issuing an order. You can take two weeks to review,” said Chief Justice Athar Minallah during the hearing.
The chief justice was questioning health ministry and foreign ministry officials on why Pakistan has not brought back its citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
“If Bangladesh can evacuate its citizens, why can’t Pakistan follow its steps?”
The foreign ministry representative responded that Bangladesh has withdrawn its decision of evacuating the citizens.
The representative of the health ministry also apprised the court that the affectees will be kept separately.
Justice Minallah responded that the citizens should be evacuated from China and can be kept separately once they are brought back to the country.
“Australia kept its evacuated citizens on an island, you can keep them in Gwadar,” he said.
The government representative stated that out of 194 countries, only 23 have evacuated their citizens, adding that Wuhan has been under lockdown and at least a thousand Pakistani citizens reside in the city.
He further stated that India has evacuated only a few of its citizens, while 80 still remain stranded.
He maintained that the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi assured FM Qureshi that the Pakistani’s will be taken care of. “We share relations with China. China has said that they are our own people.”
“Why do you think that the evacuation of the citizens would affect relations with a country? We don’t want the virus to get transmitted here. We want the foreign ministry to resolve the issue,” said the chief justice.
The IHC’s top judge reiterated that the court wants the State to take responsibility of its citizens, and urged the foreign ministry to take action.