ISLAMABAD - The opposition in the Senate on Friday rejected government’s decision not to bring those Pakistanis stuck in deadly virus-hit China back to the country in the “larger public interest.” The opposition lawmakers in a heated debate in the house urged the government to reverse its decision and evacuate and bring those citizens back to country who are stranded in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of outbreak of dangerous novel coronavirus, and other parts of the neighbouring country.

They called for establishing a quarantine, to prevent possible outbreak of the coronavirus, where international passengers and the Pakistani stranded in China could be kept for complete screening before they are allowed free movement.

Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) Senator Usman Khan Kakar opening the debate quoted the statement of health advisor and deplored that his remarks have come at a time when 28,000 Pakistanis including women and children and more than 80,000 students were staying in virus-hit China. “As many 200 students of my province Balochistan who have completed their language courses there and now they are stuck at the Urumqi Airport while no one from Pakistan is ready to cooperate with them,” he said.

Kakar said that the decision of the government was worrisome as Chinese were coming to Pakistan but Pakistanis were not allowed to come back. “If the government fears outbreak of virus, then such citizens should be kept in isolation but they should be allowed to come back,” he said adding that the government decision was tantamount to kill its own people. He also sought a ruling of the chair on the issue. PML-N senator Mushahid Ullah Khan advised that foreign and health ministries should take immediate steps for retrieval of all the Pakistanis from China. “Pakistan has one of its biggest embassies in Beijing and it has various experts as well but no one looked active from there (to deal with the menace),” he said.

Shibli Faraz says China taking care of every Pakistani, each student gets $ 840 for ordering food online

PPP Senator Rehman Malik appealed to the government to reconsider its decision and bring stranded citizens back to the country.

A treasury lawmaker Moshin Aziz also said that it would be inappropriate not to allow those citizens to come back to Pakistan and meet their families.

Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Sirajul Haq viewed that panic spread after the announcement of the government that they would not bring their citizens back. 

He stressed that Pakistanis infected with virus should be treated in China while others should be brought back. He said that return of infected people can cause problems.  PTI Senator Noman Wazir Khattak said that the outbreak could have very serious repercussions and should not be takes casually. He questioned whether the government had enough medicines and masks to deal with any outbreak. JUI-F lawmaker Moulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said this was unfair not to bring Pakistanis back only out of fear that they can cause spread of disease.

The parliamentary leader of PPP in the Senate Sherry Rehman said that China was a fast responder and facing the challenge in a serious manner. “We should reduce pressure on China,” she said. She wondered that how India, Bangladesh and other countries are evacuating their people even if their evacuation to the parent country was a threat of spreading the virus.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq endorsed his opposition colleagues and called the outbreak as an international emergency. He said that the government should make a course correction as its decision not to evacuate citizens was not right at a time when other countries were lifting their citizens through chartered flights.

Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz said that it was the duty of the government to look after those citizens stuck in China. “We have firm belief in China that it is taking every kind of step (to take care of our citizens),” he said. He said that, according to official information, $ 840 have been deposited in bank account of every Pakistani students stuck in China so that he or she can order food online. “The government is closely monitoring the situation.” He said that the decision of government not to evacuate them was not definite. As the situation changes, we will bring them back, he concluded.

Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani in his remarks said that China was an important friend of Pakistan and whole country should extend its help to the friendly country and encourage it to deal with the epidemic.