ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday directed the federal cabinet to review its earlier decision of repatriating stranded Pakistani students from virus-hit China.
Parents of students were also present during the hearing which was presided by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah.
The petition, filed by lawyer Mian Faisal, prayed upon the court to evacuate the Pakistani students from at minimum the epicentre city of Wuhan “even if they have to be kept on an island”.
“Foreign Office representatives had not met all the students there [China],” the counsel pleaded. “Parents were told in Islamabad’s meeting that students cannot be repatriated.”
Justice Minallah remarked that some countries had evacuated their students from the coronavirus epicentre. He also said that the lack of communication between the parents and their children in China is also an issue of concern.
To this, Foreign Office representative stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation with his Chinese counterpart, in which Li Keqiang had assured the premier that all Pakistani students would be taken care of like their ‘own children’.
“We have received a lot of phone calls on the hotline that has been active for a month,” the FO representative said. “You can give us contact details of the children and we will find out about the kind of facilities they are being provided.”
Justice Minallah said that the court understands the grievances of parents and the federal government should not have outrightly rejected the idea of bringing back the Pakistani students.
However, he also said that “since this is a policy matter, the court cannot directly intervene in this regard. The federal cabinet should discuss this issue to satisfy the parents and should be presented the letter written by the Pakistani students to the IHC.”