ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday urged the British-Pakistanis to help Paki­stan amid the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking here to Britain-based Pakistanis through a video link, Qureshi said the British-Paki­stanis should donate generous­ly to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s coronavirus fund.

“It will be very helpful if you do­nate generously. The whole world is locked down due to the corona­virus,” he said.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said the government was making efforts to ensure safe and regulated return of stranded Pakistanis abroad.

The FM said 20000 Pakistanis had so far been brought back from different countries. “About 2285 Pakistanis have been brought back from Britain through 24 flights,” he added.

The Foreign Minister said the government was aware of the problems of the stranded Paki­stanis and “our missions abroad have been directed to fully look af­ter them,”

He said apart from Pakistan International Airlines, the gov­ernment was trying to avail the services of other airlines to accel­erate the process of the return of the stranded Pakistanis. “An ar­rangement to this effect has been reached with Qatar,” he said.

Pakistani doctors and health workers in Britain and the United States, gf said, had made the na­tion proud.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said the way Pakistani doctors and medical workers had been work­ing abroad, especially in the UK, was priceless.

Qureshi said that videos of these doctors had gone viral on the in­ternet and people can be seen cheering for them. “I want to thank each and every one of you for putting your lives at risk and carrying out your duties,” he reit­erated.

The minister said these times were tough not only for Pakistan but people across the world. “The virus is expected to peak between May and mid-June?” he warned, stating that this will not only af­fect people’s lives but also bring economic contraction.

He said during the pandemic, the world economy had contracted 3%, which meant a loss of trillions.

Qureshi said, “I saw a piece of news today that said that the US has had the biggest lay-off of em­ployees in the last 50 years.”

He added that most of the in­dustries, including hospitality and tourism, had been affected by the pandemic. “Pakistan has been fighting these issues as well,” Qureshi mentioned.

Separately, Foreign Minister Qureshi said the country’s Pre­paredness and Response Plan on COVID-19 would prove helpful in enhancing the testing capacity and setting up of new laboratories.

In a meeting with Planning Min­ister Asad Umer here yesterday, Qureshi said the plan launched on April 23 at international level would be a milestone in contain­ing the spread of virus.

He said coronavirus had put negative impacts on the global fi­nancial situation, adding that de­veloping countries like Pakistan were the most affected.

He said the step by the interna­tional community and monetary institutions to support weak econ­omies was commendable.

Asad Umer lauded the efforts of Foreign Minister Qureshi in bringing back stranded Paki­stanis and drawing the atten­tion of international communi­ty towards the challenges faced by Pakistan during the current tough situation.