Largest group of Pakistani expats stranded in UAE, says Qureshi

Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, second left, along with other officials during a town hall meeting with overseas Pakistanis based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on June 7, 2020. (PID)
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Updated 08 June 2020

Largest group of Pakistani expats stranded in UAE, says Qureshi

  • Pakistan embassy is treating on priority cases with expired visas, foreign minister says
  • Urges expats to identify those responsible for charging inflated air fares to repatriates

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, on Sunday said that a large number of Pakistanis were residing in the Gulf countries where a lot of them were being sent back under the situation arising from COVID-19.
“The biggest number of stranded Pakistanis is in the UAE and it is regrettable that they are being overcharged for air tickets. Irrespective of who is responsible for this, we are answerable on this issue,” Qureshi said while addressing a session of Pakistani community via video link held at the Town Hall in Dubai.
He urged the expat community to identify elements making undue profit at this time of crisis in the form of inflated air fares.
The session was attended by foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood, special secretary foreign Moazzam Ali Khan and other senior officials of the ministry, according to a press release issued by the foreign office.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the UAE Ghulam Dastagir Khan and other officials of the embassy were also in attendance.
Qureshi said that UAE hosts 1.6 million Pakistanis and it was a difficult task to live up to all of their expectations.
He lauded the efforts of Pakistani mission in the Gulf state for providing free air tickets to as much as 196 Pakistanis. He also acknowledged Pakistan embassy for distributing food packets in Dubai, a step, he said, was highly appreciated.




Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, left, during a town hall meeting with overseas Pakistanis based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on June 7, 2020. (PID)

The minister further said that Pakistan embassy in UAE was facilitating on priority those whose visas had expired.
While noting that Pakistan’s exports had dwindled due to coronavirus, Qureshi said that “overseas Pakistanis are sending remittances back home after toiling hard in foreign countries and bolstering the country’s economy.”
“Overseas Pakistanis have always helped Pakistan in difficult times. It is our responsibility to heed their valid demands,” he added. 
Ambassador Dastagir briefed the foreign minister about the Pakistani community with regard to coronavirus pandemic and said that the community members in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were being taken good care of. 
He said that different steps had been taken to curb virus spread in the UAE, including imposition of lockdown, in addition to providing the best health care facilities.
Addressing the community, Qureshi said that over 209 countries in the world had been affected by the coronavirus, and stressed that “we need to change our mindset and attitude.” He urged overseas Pakistani to employ the latest technology and stay updated through social media. 
The minister paid tribute to the invaluable services rendered by Pakistani doctors and health care workers across the globe, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, especially those in the United States, United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.
Qureshi also assured the community members to take up the issue of reopening the community center with his UAE counterpart owing to the current, “unusual situation” arising from the global pandemic.


General Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign 

Updated 15 min 32 sec ago

General Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign 

  • The American business tycoon praises the army for supporting the anti-polio drive and ensuring its reach and coverage 
  • The army chief passes on the credit to ‘grassroots workers’ 

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and American business tycoon and philanthropist Bill Gates spoke on telephone about Pakistan’s COVID-19 response and resumption of anti-polio campaign, said an official handout prepared and circulated by the military’s public relations wing, ISPR, on Saturday.
Gates applauded the Pakistan Army for supporting the anti-polio drive and ensuring the program’s proper reach and coverage.
In response, the army chief said that the effort to make Pakistan polio-free was a “national cause,” adding that the credit for running an effective campaign went to “grassroots workers, including mobile teams, law enforcement agencies and healthcare representatives.”
The two also discussed how to carry out a safe anti-polio drive for everyone amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“​Mr. Gates also appreciated Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite resource constraints,” said the statement. “The COAS attributed the success to a true national response executed through the mechanism of [National Command and Operation Center] which allowed optimization of resources.”
The American businessman reiterated the Gates Foundation’s ongoing commitment “to fight pandemics” around the world and to support Pakistan in its goals of ending polio and improving health for every child.