ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday paid tributes 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 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 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 fulfill all their expectations.

Qureshi said that overseas Pakistanis were sending remittances after toiling hard in the foreign countries

Foreign minister Qureshi said he was sure that in this difficult time, the ambassador had worked hard and appreciated his e fforts for making free availability of tickets to as many as 196 Pakistanis. He 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 a large number of stranded Pakistanis in UAE were waiting for 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 set up, 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.

Ambassador Ghulam Dastagir gave a detailed briefing to the Foreign Minister about the Pakistani community with regard to 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.