ISLAMABAD                        -                    AJK President Sardar Masood Khan has suggested that the Kashmiri expatriates returning home should be first quarantined in Islamabad in order to boost the AJK government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus in the Azad territory. “The state government will allow entry to those Kashmiri expatriates who are tested negative twice, and they have completed two weeks of quarantine period in Islamabad,” he explained.

While highlighting the preventive measures taken by the AJK government at Governors Conference convened by President Dr Arif Alvi here, he said that a committee headed by additional inspector general of police with representatives of health department, state disaster management authority and the information technology department has already been constituted to collect the data of Kashmiri expatriates returning home, and to resolve their problems.

Sardar Masood Khan said that the cash flow issue of the banks is needed to be immediately addressed for smooth disbursement of relief money of about Rs three billon among 280,000 families of Azad Kashmir under Ehsas program of the federal government.

“Besides relief money from the federal government under Ehsas program, the AJK government had also provided Rs130 million from its own resources and another Rs100 million from Zakat Fund to about 37,000 deserving families which had gone a long way in addressing economic hardships of the people in the wake of coronavirus”, he added.

He said that the state government with the assistance of various federal departments particularly National Disaster Management Authority and National Institute of Health, was rapidly taking measures to prevent spread of the infectious virus.

At present there are only 43 patients in Azad Kashmir, while testing facility for the suspected cases is being provided in Rawalakot, Kotli and Mirpur, he said adding that the expatriates who had recently returned home are also being traced for testing purposes, while the committee headed by additional IG police is trying to trace those who had recently travelled to Iran, Europe, Middle East or any other country.

He said that the state government had decided to set up isolation hospitals with 50 beds each in Rawalakot, Mirpur and Bhimber while one hospital has already been established.

The AJK president warned that as a result of coronavirus pandemic, unemployment and poverty will increase in the developing countries including Pakistan, and we would have to make planning to cater to the situation. Pakistan should talk to the IMF and other international monetary agencies to re-profile the loans because 200 million dollars from the World Bank and 1.3 billion dollars from the IMF will not resolve our problems, and ultimately Azad Kashmir would also suffer.

Sardar Masood Khan said that on the whole the people have cooperated with the government after the enforcement of lockdown while the ulema had played a positive role in creating awareness among the people about following the guidelines of the World Health Organization. The philanthropists and the well off people are generously helping their poor brethren.

Sardar Masood Khan lamented that the people of occupied Kashmir are alone in their fight against the coronavirus side by side with facing brutalities of the Indian occupation forces.

India may once again stage staging a false flag operation to divert the world attention from the grave human rights violations in India and the Occupied Kashmir — something that it has done in the past.