No Pakistanis in China affected by coronavirus — Pakistan’s envoy to Beijing

Pakistani students attend a class at Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province, China Dec. 14, 2017. (Photo Courtesy: VCG Photo/File)
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Updated 15 March 2020

No Pakistanis in China affected by coronavirus — Pakistan’s envoy to Beijing

  • Says no Pakistanis in China infected with disease so far
  • Over 28,000 Pakistani students and over 2,000 traders frequent cities across China

ISLAMABAD: Amid heightened panic among thousands of Pakistanis in China during the early days of a deadly coronavirus outbreak, Pakistan’s envoy to Beijing said on Sunday no Pakistanis in the country had been affected by the disease so far, while urging calm.
There are over 28,000 Pakistani students studying all over China, 800 resident traders and 1,500 Pakistani traders who travel to China frequently. In Wuhan alone, the epicentre of the outbreak, there are at least 500 Pakistani students present, according to foreign office figures released on Saturday.
But in a video statement circulated to the Pakistani community and students in China, Pakistani ambassador Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi called for restraint in spreading false information on social media.
“No Pakistani in China has been affected by coronavirus so far. Please avoid sharing any unconfirmed reports or rumors on social media as this can create panic in the families back in Pakistan,” Hashmi said, and added that the Chinese government had announced it would automatically renew all visas that expired after Jan. 23 without any charges.
“The Pakistan mission is fully aware of the problems faced by Pakistanis in China due to coronavirus outbreak and trying its best to facilitate its nationals,” she said.
She also asked all Pakistanis to avoid going out in public, to wear face masks, practice improved hygiene and to avoid the consumption of meat, eggs and milk. 
The Pakistan Embassy also urged Pakistani students to remain vigilant while adopting good preventive measures in its latest advisory issued on Sunday.
“Pakistani community members and students in Wuhan are advised to cooperate with Chinese health authorities for curbing the spread of virus; understand the prevention and control measures taken and comply with official instructions,” the Pakistani mission in Beijing said.
The embassy also asked all Pakistanis to register with the mission to get timely updates and so they could be easily facilitated in case of an emergency evacuation.
But families back home in Pakistan have expressed grave concern for the well-being of their loved ones in China.
“We are worried about the health of our daughter who is studying at Xiamen University since 2018,” Rawalpindi-based Zahoor Ahmad, father of Maham Zahoor who is pursuing her Master’s degree in international relations, told Arab News on Saturday. “I talked to her this morning and advised her to remain indoors and avoid unnecessary movement, especially to markets and other public places.”
The coronavirus, which emerged in December, has now spread to other countries, but the majority of the 2,000 cases and all 56 deaths, have been reported in China.
Earlier this week, Chinese authorities shut down transportation from Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, hoping to contain the spread of virus, and have since expanded the lockdown to other cities, covering a total population of about 35 million people.
The World Health Organization described the outbreak as an emergency for China, though it stopped short of declaring it a public health emergency of international concern just yet.
“We are facing problems as we have been asked to remain in our hostels. We are facing an acute shortage of food as shops and restaurants are closed due to the blockade of the city,” Muhammad Atiq, a PhD student of Public Administration at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, told Arab News by telephone from China.
Atiq added that his family in Pakistan were getting increasingly worried.
“The university promised to provide us with special masks, but we haven’t received them yet as air traffic, railways and even taxi services are closed in the city. We could not even offer Friday prayers since all sorts of gatherings have been banned in the city,” he said.
Mumtaz Begum, a school principal from southern Punjab whose daughter is a student at Peking University in Beijing, expressed serious concerns for the health of her daughter while speaking to Arab News.
“I want her to come back to Pakistan, but she has her exams in a couple of months. I have asked her to remain inside her apartment, wear a mask and avoid going to public places. We all are praying for her health as the virus is spreading to the whole of China,” she said.
On Saturday, at least two people suspected of contracting coronavirus were admitted to Nishtar hospital in Multan, southern Punjab. The government has so far denied reports of any confirmed case of the disease in Pakistan.


Dubai tycoon seeks to acquire Summit Bank 

Updated 35 min 50 sec ago

Dubai tycoon seeks to acquire Summit Bank 

  • Lootah wants to increase his shareholding from 0.51 percent to at least 51 percent
  • He says the investment would help the bank meet the minimum capital requirements

KARACHI: Dubai-based tycoon Nasser Abdullah Hussain Lootah has expressed his intention to acquire a majority stake in Summit Bank Limited, according to a notice received by the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Monday.
“The intention has been notified to the board of directors of the Summit Bank Limited on March 27, 2020,” read the letter sent by Summit Bank to the PSX.

Lootah, who is currently serving as the bank’s chairman, holds 0.51 percent of its shares and wants to increase his holding to at least 51 percent to gain a controlling stake by “subscribing to fresh equity,” as he said in a letter sent to Summit Bank president Ahsan Raza Durrani on Friday.
The acquisition, according to him, would inject fresh money into the bank and help it meet the minimum capital requirements.

“It is also envisaged that this equity injection will enable the bank to comply with the Minimum Capital Requirements and Capital Adequacy Ration requirements as required by the State Bank of Pakistan,” Lootah wrote.
Summit Bank is a subsidiary of Suroor Investment Limited, a Mauritius-based investment company, which owns 66.77 percent of its shares. Other shareholders include Rupali Bank Limited (1.24 percent) and Lootah (0.51 percent), according to the bank’s annual report from Dec. 31, 2017. As of 2017, it had 193 branches across Pakistan.

The bank has not published its audited financials since then, according to Lootah’s letter. 

Suroor Investment acquired a 59.41 percent stake in Arif Habib Bank in 2010 and rebranded it as Summit Bank Limited. 
Lootah, who is seeking to acquire the bank in personal capacity, has diversified business interests the sectors of travel, shipping, real estate, mineral water, logistics, information technology, and media.
He also has controlling shares in two Pakistani companies — 95 percent in Global Haly Developments Limited and 80 percent in Lootah Energy Private Limited.

The Lootah family is also the biggest shareholder in Dubai Islamic Bank.