ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday said it was actively in contact with Iran to fight the Coronavirus as two cases of infection were confirmed in the country. Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan’s embassy and two consulates in Iran were alert and monitoring the situation closely.

“They are reaching out to our community members, the Pakistani Zaireen (devotees) and our students in Iran. Round the clock help-lines at the embassy and the consulates in Mashshad and Zahidan have been established to provide updates to our community on the outbreak of Coronavirus, both for their awareness and for assistance,” she said.

The spokesperson said specific guidelines containing precautionary measures, hotline numbers, email addresses of the designated focal points in the embassy and the consulates had been shared through social media with the Pakistani community members in Iran.

Regarding the Coronavirus confirmation in Pakistan, she said the federal government and the provincial governments were fully alert on the issue.

“The federal and the provincial governments will take necessary measures to control the spread of coronavirus. It is an evolving situation and the best possible measures to control the spread of the virus will be taken by the government,” she said.

US-Taliban peace deal welcomed

The spokesperson said in China too, the embassy and consulates were fully engaged regarding the Pakistani students. “A two-member team has been permanently deputed in Wuhan city to make sure that the daily needs of our students in terms of food and health are addressed and monitored in close coordination with the Chinese authorities,” she maintained.

As for return of Pakistani nationals from Iran, she said, the government and all the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Health and the provincial governments were monitoring the situation to take all precautionary measures.

“Dr Zafar Mirza (Special Assistant to PM on health) went to Balochistan and Taftan border to evaluate the situation so that necessary assistance can be provided accordingly,” she added.

The spokesperson said Pakistan had concerns over the defence deals between the US and India especially the sale of sophisticated weapon system to New Delhi.

This, she said, will further destabilize the already volatile region. “We have alerted the international community many times about India’s aggressive designs not only towards Pakistan but also other countries in the region.”

She said Pakistan had been the victim of state terrorism emanating from the eastern border. She said Pakistan has shared its concerns in this regard with the international community.

Aisha Farooqui expressed grave concerns over the violence against Muslims including desecration of mosques in New Delhi.

She said Pakistan’s leadership as well as the international community had also raised their concerns on the situation. She said the state oppression that the Kashmiri people had been suffering for decades at the hands of Indian authorities has now found its way in the Indian capital.

The spokesperson said Pakistan had welcomed the mediation offer made by the US President Donald Trump during his visit to India. She said the US President also lauded Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism during the visit.  She said the Trump’s remarks were a manifestation of upward trajectory in Pakistan-US relations. She said there was an increasing awareness in the world that resolution of Kashmir dispute is the key for peace and stability in the region.

Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan welcomed the peace deal to be signed between the US and Afghan Taliban tomorrow (February 29). She expressed the confidence that this will pave the way for intra Afghan dialogue. She hoped this historic opportunity will be seized by all the Afghan parties to take the people of Afghanistan towards peace and stability.

The spokesperson said Pakistan has played a significant role in facilitating the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Aisha Farooqui confirmed that the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan was on the cards. She said both the sides are working on the schedule of the visit.

The spokesperson said Pakistan was a great partner of China. “We look forward to the visit of the President of China to Pakistan this year. Both sides are working on the schedules as per the convenience of our leaderships,” she added.

Aisha Farooqui said the Chinese government was taking extraordinary measures to stem the spread of Coronavirus.

Regarding anti-Pakistan activities of Indian research centres in the US, she said, “we are well cognizant of all such activities. As regards the second question, it has been decades since Afghanistan is in a state of war.”