ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday paid tribute to the invaluable ser­vices rendered by Pakistani doctors and health professionals across the globe, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, especially those in the United States, United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

The foreign minister was address­ing a session of Pakistani commu­nity via video link held at the town hall in the UAE. The session was at­tended by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Special Secretary Foreign Moazzam Ali Khan and other senior officials of the ministry, a press re­lease said.

Ambassador of Pakistan in UAE Ghulam Dastagir Khan and other of­ficials of the embassy also attended the special session through the vid­eo link.

Addressing the session, the for­eign minister observed that UAE was hosting 1.6 million Pakistani com­munity members and it was a dif­ficult task to fulfil all their expecta­tions.

The foreign minister said he was sure that in this difficult time, the ambassador had worked hard and appreciated his efforts for making free availability of tickets to as many as 196 Pakistanis.

The foreign minister highlighted that country’s exports had dwindled due to coronavirus, but they were still optimistic about the foreign re­mittances. These overseas Pakistanis were sending remittances after toil­ing hard in the foreign countries and bolstering the country’s economy, he opined.

He also noted that a change in the mindset and behaviour was must and observed that a large number of Pakistanis in the Gulf were being sent home due to COVID-19.

He said that a large number of stranded Pakistanis in UAE were waiting for their return and regretted that they were being overcharged for obtaining the air tickets. Whosoever was responsible but they have been made answerable for it, he added.

“In the democratic setup, there is freedom of expression and the dem­ocratic governments are accountable before the public”, the foreign min­ister said and requested for identi­fying those elements who had been overcharging the air tickets from Pa­kistanis.

On the occasion, Ambassador Ghu­lam Dastagir gave a detailed brief­ing to the foreign minister about the Pakistani community with regard to the coronavirus pandemic and ap­prised that the community members in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were being fully cared of.

For containment of coronavirus in the UAE, different steps including imposition of lockdown were taken, besides provision of best healthcare facilities, he added.

The foreign minister said today, the world was fast changing as the social media was providing timely informa­tion and underlined the need for uti­lizing of modern resources in this re­gard.

About 209 countries across the world had been affected with coro­navirus pandemic, he added.

He also lauded efforts of Pakistan embassy for distribution of ration in Dubai, a step, he said, was highly ap­preciated. The minister further said that Pakistan embassy in UAE was facilitating those on priority basis whose visas had been expired.

He also asked the community members to openly speak up about their issues and the role of embassy.

Qureshi also assured to take up the issue of opening of communi­ty center with his UAE counterpart and request him with regard to cur­rent unusual situation arising out of pandemic.

He also acknowledged the contri­butions made by the overseas Paki­stanis in strengthening of his party.