ISLAMABAD                        -                Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that government was committed to bring all the stranded Pakistanis back through special flights.

He made these remarks at a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on coronavirus, chaired by Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser, at Parliament House,  to discuss the follow-up progress reports by the concerned departments on resolution of problems of corona affectees.

 Minister for foreign affairs said that as per data collected by the Foreign Office though its Missions abroad, the total number of Pakistanis stranded was 39748 with bulk in Middle Eastern countries.

He said that number of Pakistanis belong to Tableeghi Jamaat was 2248 who are stranded abroad.

He said that govt had arranged specials flights to bring stranded Pakistanis back home, quarantine them and later send home after receiving of tests reports.

He said that next phase of special flight would be started from April 14th, 2020 and 9 flights would bring 2000 people.

He said that the flights in next phase would arrive in Lahore, Karachi, Multan, Peshawar and Faisalabad. Minister for Aviation and the Minister for Religious Affairs extended their fullest support in fight against coronavirus.

Speaker Asad Qaiser in his opening remarks said that due to the spread of coronavirus pandemic and its impact internationally, problems of stranded members of Tablighi Jamaat and Zaireen and prisoners detained in prisons in foreign countries appeared on Electronic, print and social media which were quite disturbing and caused panic amongst the public.

He said that in view of the disturbing news of the difficulties faced by Pakistani abroad, he considered it appropriate to form a special committee that would take stock of the situation and find a solution to their problems.

The Committee diligently discussed the problems of Tablighi Jamaat and Zaireen with their representatives, collected certified data and shared it with concerned departments.

He further said that four provincial Chief Ministers, the CM of Gilgit-Baltistan and the PM of Azad Kashmir were also taken on board.

He said that he had contacted all the scholars of all schools of thought and asked them for guidance, who had assured their all out support. The Speaker said that ministry of Religious Affairs had been entrusted with the task of delivering the message of the Ulema through print, electronic and social media that the corona virus was a global issue and a disease that was to be tackled together. It was not due to any one individual or group, nor can it be solved at the individual level.

The Minister for SAFRON/Convener of the Sub-Committee of the Special Committee presented the report of the Sub-Committee.

He informed that representatives of Tableeghi Jaamat and Zayreen were taken on board and their verified data was collected. He further informed that data of Pakistanis stranded abroad and registered with MoFA and prisoners released by Oman and UAE was also acquired from Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said that as per data received from Tableeghi Jammat, a total number of Jamaat members stranded abroad and in Pakistan were 2054 and 16900, respectively, whereas 275 Zayreen were stranded in Iran and 727 in Pakistan in different quarantine facilities.

He further informed that Zayreen who successfully returned to their destination were 1326. He further informed that 660 prisoners were released and 36000 Pakistanis were stranded in Dubai, Qatar and Oman. He informed that the Sub-Committee was contact with relevant quarters and would oversee the safe return of everyone to their respective destinations.

While discussing the follow-up progress report of the earlier directions of the Committee, the Secretary of ministry of Interior apprised the committee that the Ministry had directed the Deputy Commissioners of the concerned districts to make logistic arrangements for the people who have been tested negative to take them safely back to their home towns as per SoPs developed by the Health Department and the provinces.

The Secretary Aviation Division apprised the Committee about the flight operation. He said that only Islamabad Airport was operational and catering the incoming and outgoing passenger traffic through special flight operation. He said that Aviation Division had made arrangements through PIA to take and bring the stranded Pakistanis and Foreign National. He said that in next phase other major airports would be made operational.

The Executive Director National Institute of Health apprised the Committee about the testing of corona virus at NIH. He informed that NIH was conducting tests currently with capacity of 13000 to 14000 which would be enhanced to 30000 tests per day in next few days. He said that presently 41 labs were conducting corona tests and the number of the labs would also be increased. He said that the tests conducted by NIH were of world-class standard and reports of the tests were delivered within 24 to 48 hours. He said that NIH labs were overloaded however the load was being handled taking it as a national cause.