Stranded Umrah pilgrims to return in days: Zulfi

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ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari Monday hinted at repatriation of stranded Umrah pilgrims from Saudi Arabia within next few days.
“The government is aware of the fact that some 15,000 Pakistani Umrah Pilgrims have been stuck up in Saudi Arabia [due to the coronavirus issue] and I assure you that all of them would be brought back within 3 to 5 days,” the special assistant said in a video message released by the OP&HRD ministry on its social media pages.
He said the Umrah pilgrims would only be allowed to go home after proper screening. On their return, they would be quarantined for 15-day on the same pattern, as followed in case of pilgrims coming back from Iran, he added.
Zulfikar Bukhari said Prime Minister Imran Khan is personally overseeing the situation regarding COVID-19, that is why Pakistan’s efforts for containment of virus had been recognized by the entire world including the World Health Organization.
In this hour of distress, I have been instructed by the prime minister to resolve issues of overseas Pakistanis, residing across the globe on priority,” he said, highlighting the measures his ministry had taken so far for the facilitation of Pakistani expatriates.
The special assistant said his ministry in collaboration with other stakeholders, had finalized the preparations to send food and other necessities for Pakistani students, stuck up in China after the coronavirus outbreak there.
“Food supply for 15-day will be dispatched on March 19 (Thursday) to ensure provision of Halal food to Pakistani students in Hubei province of China,” he informed.
Zulfikar Bukhari said his ministry was also ascertaining the number of Pakistani students in China who had received financial assistance from government. “We will soon ensure the opening of new bank accounts of those students who are still awaiting the government’s aid”, he added.
Referring to non-evacuation of Pakistani students from China, he said it was an appropriate policy which had yet not been changed so far.”It is an evolving situation and changing with each passing day, so the government will take the decision accordingly”, he added.
He said the government was evaluating the situation with regard to Pakistani students in China on day-to-day basis. The government was in constant contact with the students’ parents, he added.
The special assistant urged Pakistani Diaspora to ensure coordination with health authorities of their respective countries. “The situation will get better soon, so be law-abiding citizens, show patience and obey law of the land at which you are residing.”
There was no need to be panic as the government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, was taking care of all Pakistanis and expatriates.
The government was ensuring provision of healthcare facilities for the masses in wake of coronavirus, he added.
He expressed his gratitude for Pakistani departments which had been playing central role in the efforts to contain coronavirus. “I thank Pak Army, provincial leadership, health officials, medics and volunteers who are working on the front-line to deal with COVID-19.” – TLTP