ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday said it will open Khunjerab Pass with China in April instead of an early date due to the corona virus emergency.

The Khunjerab Pass was closed in November due to heavy snowfall and authorities had previously planned to open it before April.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the at a weekly press briefing, said the opening of the crossing point at Pak-China border take place “according to routine plan.”

“As per agreement between Pakistan and China, the Khunjerab Pass is closed in November due to heavy snowfall and reopens in April. The decision to open it early (before April) has been changed as part of health safety measures,” she said.

The spokesperson said Pakistan was in constant touch with the Chinese authorities to ensure safety of its nationals and the contact persons of Pakistan embassy were available at hotline for any assistance.

Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan embassy in Beijing had contacted all students registered in its database, while those not registered, were appealed to approach dedicated telephone lines.

She said the government had set up a technical core committee with all stakeholders to regularly monitor the situation and make immediate plans to prevent the spread of Novel Coronavirus.

“We have also appealed all those Pakistani nationals and students who were not registered with the Embassy to contact the Embassy hotline numbers so that their concerns are addressed and they are properly looked after. We have been ensured that the safety and welfare of our nationals will be assured. We have also raised the issue of shortage of food with the Chinese authorities and with university administration so that these issues are addressed accordingly,” she explained.

The spokesperson said no country had evacuated its citizen from China. “However, some countries have talked to the Chinese authorities in this regard,” she added.

Aisha Farooqui said it had become a pattern for the Indian leadership to create a war hysteria and jingoistic environment against Pakistan and its people.

“We have firmly rejected the recent irresponsible statement made by the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi). These remarks are another reflection of India’s incurable obsession with Pakistan and the Indian government and its leadership’s desperate attempts to divert attention from the growing domestic and international criticism of their discriminatory, anti-Kashmir and anti-minority policies,” she said.

No one, she warned, should underestimate the resolve of the people and the armed forces of Pakistan to effectively thwart any aggressive action.

She said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had announced a very robust campaign plan to highlight Indian atrocities and human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir.

“The plan includes activities inside Pakistan and abroad as well. This is an ongoing process and national effort. Our missions abroad in more than hundred countries are planning a comprehensive strategy regarding the upcoming Kashmir Solidarity Day, which will be executed between now and 5th February and continuing after also,” she elaborated.

To a question, Aisha Farooqui said, Pakistan had consistently supported a two-state solution to the Palestine issue, as enshrined in the relevant Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions.

“Pakistan continues to support a just and lasting solution of the Palestinian issue, through dialogue and negotiations, that leads to the realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including the right of self-determination,” she maintained.

Aisha Farooqui added: “We renew our call for the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally-agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.”

Asked about the protest by Pashtun Tahafuz Movement in front of the Pakistan embassy in Kabul, she said: “We have received information that the protest is being staged outside the Embassy in Kabul. Our Embassy including its consular section is continuing its work, as per its mandate to further Pakistan-Afghanistan ties. We have taken note of the protest.”

Asked about the agenda of Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres’ planned visit to Pakistan next month, Aisha Farooqui said there were no details to share so far.