Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah has asked the parents of Pakistani students stranded in China to trust the state as it is taking the right measures given the circumstances. The students shall not be brought back to Pakistan owing to various challenges at the moment, parents have been told.
SAPM on Information @Dr_FirdousPTI says food provided to Pakistani students in #China by Overseas Pakistanis Foundation in collaboration with NDMA https://t.co/k3LxaTEKyS #iFightCorona #CoronavirusOutbreak #CoronavirusPandemic #TogetherWeCan#COVID #CoronaVirus pic.twitter.com/WOYKjKvAVX
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) March 20, 2020
Coronavirus appears to be single most terrifying challenge the world is deal with. According to latest media reports, more than 11,000 people have died and more than 256,000 have been infected by COVID-19 as the disease spreads rapidly to new territories. The epicenter of the outbreak has now shifted to Europe, which is recording a rapid rise in new cases every day.
Justice Minallah made the remark while hearing a case related to the repatriation of Pakistanis stranded in China.
During the hearing, high-level officials from the Foreign Ministry and Cabinet division presented the government’s response, which had earlier been sought by the court.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General (China) Mudassir Tipu told the court that things are improving in China following the initial outbreak, and that the situation will improve further in the next two weeks.
Tipu also informed the court that a plane carrying food items and medicines provided by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had already been dispatched to China.
Today, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Ilyushin Il-78MP Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) (aircraft serial number R11-004) transported relief goods from Pakistan for Pakistani students in China unable to travel due to COVID-19. https://t.co/eEZSXfLBmq pic.twitter.com/URc7GXbMLj
— Pakistan Aviation News 🇵🇰 (@avpak3) March 20, 2020
He further said that the government has provided cash grants to “95%” of students residing in China.
During the hearing, parents of the stranded Pakistani students complained that the government had not taken any measures to bring back their children.
To this, IHC CJ Minallah said the most important thing is that the Pakistani students are much safer in China as they would have been at greater risk in Pakistan.
“The US and the UK have acknowledged after taking back their citizens that they did the wrong thing,” the judge noted, adding that the only success story in the world right now in the fight against coronavirus is the one demonstrated by China.
Restaurants are reopening, traffic and factories are stirring, and in one of the clearest signs yet that China is awakening from its coronavirus coma, the country’s “dancing aunties” are once again gathering in parks and squares.
As the rest of the world runs for cover, China — where the virus first emerged — is moving, guardedly, in the opposite direction as domestic infections fall to nil following unprecedented lockdowns and travel restrictions.
— 24 News HD (@24NewsHD) March 20, 2020
Most of the country is now slowly lifting restrictions and people are returning to work, unlike many Western countries where governments have ordered sweeping restrictions not seen during peacetime.
Many European countries are in near-total internal lockdown, and popular tourist spots are deserted. But after weeks of empty streets and citizens sheltering at home for safety, Shanghai has transformed in recent days.
Cafes and some tourist sites have reopened, and residents of China’s biggest city are re-emerging for tai chi in the park, or to take selfies along the riverfront under bright spring sunshine.
The judge said that the court would be wrapping up the case and that the worried parents should trust the state in the matter.
He noted that the National Security Committee is also looking into the issue. The parents, however, pleaded that the case not be concluded but kept in a pending state. In February, the parents of the Pakistani students had submitted a plea to the IHC asking that their children be brought back from China as Wuhan came under lockdown due to the high incidence of coronavirus cases.
In one of the previous hearings, the IHC said it would not interfere in Islamabad’s policy on the evacuation of stranded Pakistanis in Wuhan, but asked the government to provide concrete assurances to the families of those affected that the citizens were in good hands.