ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that repatriating Pakistanis stranded at airports across the world is a top priority of the government.
Qureshi, while addressing a meeting to review the arrangement made to being back Pakistan nationals amid coronavirus outbreak, announced that the Foreign Ministry has established a crisis management cell which is in constant contact with Pakistani embassies across the globe and has complete statistics of overseas Pakistanis.
The meeting, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), was attended by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, State Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari, National Security Advisor Dr Moeed Yousuf, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood among others.
Qureshi, who presided over the meeting, informed the attendees that all the 170 Pakistanis stranded in Thailand, who have returned home on special flights, were tested for coronavirus on arrival. “I am pleased to announce that the tests came out negative,” he added.
“We have to ensure quarantine and various other medical facilities at airports for the positively tested coronavirus cases,” said Qureshi.
The foreign minister informed the meeting that the majority of the countries have currently suspended flight operations in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.
The meeting also deliberated on the resumption of international flights from April 4.
The recommendations, agreed upon in the meeting, will now be presented at the next meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for approval.
QURESHI CALLS SAUDI COUNTERPART:
Earlier in the day, Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan regarding the challenges posed by coronavirus.
Qureshi expressed deep grief and sorrow over the deaths of Saudis due to the epidemic and appreciated the timely steps taken by the government to contain the spread. He also apprised Prince Faisal regarding the steps taken by the Pakistani government to contain the contagion.
Qureshi pointed out that developing countries like Pakistan are facing grave economic difficulties as a result of the epidemic. He recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan has suggested restructuring of loans of poor countries so that they could use their resources to fight the disease.
The foreign minister also denounced the missile attacks on Riyadh and Jizan and appreciated the timely response of Saudi armed forces. He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to the security and integrity of the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Prince Faisal said the G20 Summit, which was hosted by the Kingdom, discussed various aspects of financial assistance to developing countries including restructuring their loans.
The two ministers agreed to continue their consultation process for the promotion of bilateral cooperation and to meet the coronavirus challenge.