Activities at Pakistan-Iran border remain suspended

Published February 25, 2020
A MAN wears a protective mask bearing the logo of the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration while walking with others along a street in Tehran on Monday.—AFP
A MAN wears a protective mask bearing the logo of the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration while walking with others along a street in Tehran on Monday.—AFP

QUETTA: After the government’s decision to close Pakistan border with Iran where novel coronavirus has claimed at least 12 lives, all activities at Taftan and four other entry points remained suspended on Monday.

According to officials, around 200 Pakistani pilgrims, who were scheduled to return to the country, were not allowed to cross the border by Pakistani authorities. They are now stranded in the Iranian border town of Mirjaveh.

“Around 200 pilgrims are waiting to enter Pakistan, but the border is closed and all offices of immigration, customs and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) are closed,” an FIA official told Dawn.

According to sources, the stranded Pakistani pilgrims informed the authorities that they had reached the border with the permission of the Iranian government. But the Pakistani authorities urged their Iranian counterparts that these people should be shifted to isolation centres in Iran and kept there for 14 days before their entry into Pakistan.

Officials of the health department and the administrations of Pakistan’s border districts have denied detecting any case of coronavirus. They said the government had adopted all precautionary measures and kept a watchful eye on borders.

“No one can enter Pakistan without proper screening at all entry points,” a security official told Dawn.

The sources said pilgrims and other people who had crossed into Pakistan before the border with Iran were closed had been put under observation. They will spend 14 days in an isolation facility.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Balochistan government has said that around 5,000 Pakistani pilgrims are still in Iran. They are scheduled to return to the country before March 15, but the provincial government has announced that they will not be allowed to cross the border without their complete screening for coronavirus and obtaining a clearance certificate from the Iranian government.

After closing of the borders between the two countries, hundreds of travellers were stranded on both the sides.

The pilgrims in Pakistan are being screened for coronavirus at a medical facility established by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority and the health department.

Meeting reviews situation

After the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in Iran, all stakeholders in Pakistan sat together in Islamabad on Monday to review the situation and device a strategy.

According to a statement of the Ministry of National Health Services, the meeting was jointly chaired by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri. It was attended by representatives of Pakistan Army and National Institute of Health and the federal information secretary. There was also provincial representation in the meeting through video links.

During the meeting efforts of Iran to control coronavirus were appreciated and it was decided to increase efforts for stop the spread of virus through the Pak-Iran border.

Dr Mirza said that so far over 100 samples had been tested and all were found negative.

“We can surely say that Pakistan is free from coronavirus,” he said.

Ikram Junaidi from Islamabad also contributed to this story

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020

Opinion

Editorial

Royal tantrum
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Royal tantrum

The PML-N's confrontational stance and overt refusal to respect courts orders on arguably flimsy pretexts is a dangerous sign.
Bangladesh chaos
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Bangladesh chaos

The unfortunate events playing out in Bangladesh should serve as a warning sign for other South Asian states.
Fitch’s estimate
20 Jul, 2024

Fitch’s estimate

FITCH seems to be more optimistic about Pakistan accelerating its economic growth rate to 3.2pc during this fiscal...
Misplaced priorities
Updated 19 Jul, 2024

Misplaced priorities

The government must call its APC at the earliest and invite all stakeholders to take part; this matter cannot be delayed further.
Oman terror attack
19 Jul, 2024

Oman terror attack

THE normally peaceful sultanate of Oman was shaken by sectarian terrorism on Monday when militants belonging to the...
Urban flooding
19 Jul, 2024

Urban flooding

THE provincial authorities have been taking precautionary measures, or so we have been told, to cope with emergency...