Coronavirus: mother’s plea

February 13, 2020


CORONAVIRUS, also known as 2019-nCoV, is being discussed globally. Because of the epidemic, the parents of Pakistani students studying in China have panicked, while students are fearful.

Unfortunately, our government and embassy in China did not do enough till the matter was taken up in the Senate. It was later reported that $840 had been deposited by the government in the bank account of each Pakistani student in China.

A decision was then taken to evacuate students from China before rescinding it the next day. Nothing has been heard of the much larger number of Pakistanis besides students who live in China.

There are some questions that need to be answered. Were any instructions ever given to students by scholarship awarding authorities or our diplomatic missions to get themselves registered?

What role is Higher Education Commission playing for its scholarship holders across the globe? Have they been contacted? Why does not the labour ministry have the exact number of Pakistanis working abroad? How did the government deposit $840 in each student’s bank account in China? Does the government have their account numbers? At least the ones I know have not received a penny.

What has our diplomatic mission done for Pakistani students in China who have now got themselves registered with it?

If we are to subscribe to the argument that parents are being unrealistic in demanding the government to evacuate their children, why have other countries — Bangladesh and Afghanistan —evacuated their citizens from China? I am a concerned mother of a Pakistani student enrolled in a university in Wuhan.

I must appreciate the efforts made by the Chinese government for looking after Pakistani students, remaining in constant touch with them and providing them food, etc. But what have we done in concrete terms?

I would appreciate a more serious and responsible attitude from our government, please.

Prof (Dr) Shazra Munnawer


Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2020