The Edhi Foundation has written a letter to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, seeking permission to “evacuate students from Wuhan city of China”.
The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, states that the organisation’s representatives are in touch with the students, who are “mentally disturbed and in stress”. The letter also states that the students are “facing food shortage” and that most of them are not infected and “we can save them”.
Wuhan, the epicentre of the new coronavirus that has claimed over 800 lives and affected more than 37,000 people so far, has been under lockdown since January 23.
The letter goes on to cite the examples of countries such as America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and India, among others, which have already evacuated their citizens from Wuhan.
Using these examples as precedent, Faisal Edhi has requested the foreign minister for “permission to bring these Pakistani students to Pakistan and also … identify area where these students quarantine until coronavirus negative”.
The letter states that as soon as the permission is granted, the foundation will contact airlines to arrange for charter flights to bring the students to Pakistan.
On January 29, Pakistan had stopped flight operations to and from China as it assessed the best possible response to the threat of the new virus entering the country. Three days later, the embargo was lifted and several Pakistanis stranded in other cities of China were allowed to fly in.
However, the students in Wuhan have not been so lucky.
Earlier on Sunday, GeoNews quoted Ambassador of Pakistan to the People’s Republic of China, Naghmana Hashmi, as saying that due to lack of permission, they could not reach stranded Pakistani students in Wuhan.
For his part, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, reassured the students and their families that the situation was being assessed.
“My very dear students in China & ur respectable family members, v r intensely discussing the situation @ highest level & will make the best decision in view of all factors with ref to devastating #coronavirus potential global pandemic. Rest assured you are our own & we care!” he tweeted.