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February 15, 2020

IHC asks govt to satisfy parents of Wuhan students

Top Story

 
February 15, 2020

Ag Sabah

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Friday said it would not interfere in government’s policy on the evacuation of stranded Pakistanis in China’s coronavirus-hit Wuhan, but asked the government to provide concrete assurances to the families of those affected that the citizens were in good hands.

The foreign ministry subsequently informed the IHC that two diplomats had already been dispatched to Wuhan to assess the problems being faced by the Pakistanis stuck there.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard a petition filed by the parents of the Pakistani students stuck in China. During the proceedings, Justice Minallah informed the government officials that Pakistani students themselves had reached out to the court for help. “Students present in China are experiencing severe mental stress,” the judge told the officials.

The government representative informed the court that Pakistan had formed a joint working group with the Chinese government to resolve the students’ issues, adding the government was trying to resolve all grievances to the best of its abilities.

Justice Minallah asked the government why it had not evacuated the Pakistani students in China. “It is quite strange that when other countries are evacuating, why aren’t we?” asked the judge. “Are those countries taking a risk [by evacuating their citizens] or do we not have the capacity [to deal with the possible consequences]?” asked Justice Minallah. To this, the director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded the Chinese government had advised against evacuating the students as they could pose a risk to the people in Pakistan.

Justice Minallah stated that the students who emailed him had not been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and had asked if they will also be stuck in China till April.

“The court will not intervene in the policy matters of the government,” remarked the IHC’s top judge but made it clear that the government should at least satisfy the families of those students.

Justice Minallah directed the foreign ministry official to develop a mechanism through which the parents can reach out to their wards.

The chief justice also directed Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Syed Zulfikar Bukhari to arrange a meeting between families and students and satisfy the parents.