MULTAN - Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said the government would not abandon 40,000 Pakistanis stuck abroad due to coronavirus pandemic and they would be brought back very soon.

“The government is fully aware of the difficulty being faced by them. We’ll not leave them alone,” he said while giving details of his video message to expatriate Pakistanis. He asked all provincial governments to cooperate with the foreign ministry and federal government for bringing these Pakistanis back.

He said that the air space of the country was closed on March 21 to stop the spread of the COVID-19 as a result of which many Pakistanis got stuck at Doha, Istanbul, Tashkent, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

“We’re the most concerned for our brothers who are in Gulf countries. We’ve a realization of their hardships. The Prime Minister has constituted a committee under my leadership for solving this problem,” he disclosed.

He said that the committee was making efforts as a result of which 1600 Pakistanis reached back while about 40,000 still wait for their return. He said that it was unfortunate that all initiatives taken by the federal government could not succeed due to non-cooperation of provincial governments and they should cooperate with the federal government in this difficult time to bring our brothers back.

He said that Pakistan was fighting against this epidemic under the leadership of Imran Khan with its entire resources. He said that the doctors, paramedical staff and all others who were related to medical field were Pakistan’s pilot force in fight against COVID-19 and we could not neglect their sacrifices in this war. .

Meanwhile visiting an Ehsaas Programme Centre in Basti Khudadaad, the FM said that the government had a realization of the hardships being faced by the small business holders and daily wagers. “That’s why the Prime Minister has announced a partial lockdown and allocated huge amount for extending financial support to them,” he added.

He said the government had started registration of Tiger Force to supply ration to the deserving families and so far 820,000 persons had got themselves registered for it. He said that the last date for registration had been extended till April 15.

Earlier, the FM inaugurated ration distribution campaign in his constituency NA-156 and his son’s constituency NA-157. On this occasion, he said the ration bags would be given to all deserving persons irrespective of their political affiliations.

Also, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the government is making vigorous efforts to bring back overseas Pakistanis, who are willing to come to their home country. While chairing a meeting in Islamabad on Saturday, he said we had evolved a consensus Standard Operating System and Protocol for the repatriation of stranded Pakistani citizens. Qureshi also urged workers of Tableeghi Jamaat to remain in touch with Pakistani ambassadors in Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, and wherever they are staying.

He said a strategy is also being evolved for the repatriation of pilgrims. He said efforts are being made for early release of detained Pakistani citizens in various countries.