COVID-19: Pakistani celebrities who have lived to tell the tale

(L to R) Singer Abrar-ul-Haq, Actress/Host Nida Yasir, Actor/Director Yasir Nawaz and Fashion Designer Maheen Khan.
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Updated 07 July 2020

COVID-19: Pakistani celebrities who have lived to tell the tale

  • Arab News speaks to notable Pakistanis about their experience testing positive for the coronavirus and the road to recovery 
  • Around 234,509 Pakistanis have so far tested positive, many of them politicians and celebrities from the entertainment and fashion industries 

KARACHI: As more and more notable Pakistanis test positive for COVID-19, Arab News spoke to some members of the entertainment and fashion industries about their experience with the coronavirus, the road to recovery and the lessons learnt along the way: 
Abrar ul Haq, famed singer, politician and philanthropist, told Arab News on Sunday that he suspected he had caught the virus while building a coronavirus hospital in Lahore, and soon learnt that his wife and son were also positive, though his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter was not. The family immediately quarantined in different rooms of the house for almost 20 days and received advice from doctors over the phone while the daughter was sent to live with her grandmother.
Haq said he had used his time in quarantine to produce a song, soon to be released on his YouTube channel, which paid tribute to the doctors and nurses fighting against the coronavirus outbreak.
Yasir Nawaz, a film and television actor and director, and his wife Nida Yasir, a famous morning show host, both tested positive for the coronavirus in May, and quarantined themselves in the upper portion of their house, isolating themselves from their children and household staff. The maids who brought them food were given PPE suits to wear, Yasir said. 
“We used disposable plates and cups and didn’t waste our trash outside but kept it in a separate place on the terrace,” Yasir added. 
An asymptomatic carrier, she tested negative for the virus in 14 days and believes a clean diet and strong immune system might have helped keep her safe from complications.
“I was already taking lots of fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Besides I was regular on Vitamin C, Zinc and Calcium for my general wellbeing, that also worked against COVID.” 
Yasir said she had wanted to donate her plasma but doctors advised that as an asymptomatic carrier, her plasma probably had not produced enough antibodies needed for the treatment, which involves the infusion of plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient to a recovering one as a source of antibodies, a widely sought method in Pakistan despite limited information on its effectiveness.
Yasir’s husband Nawaz, however, said he had donated his plasma to Dow University Karachi and was informed by the hospital that his plasma had been infused in a number of patients, of which one woman who had been on a ventilator was now recovering. 
Maheen Khan, a 75-year-old top Pakistani fashion designer, said her symptoms included fever, body pains and headache and she also lost her sense of taste and smell.
“I had read a lot about the virus, so I immediately tested myself and after testing positive, just quarantined myself at home for the next 21 days,” she said, adding that she opted for a “holistic approach” to recovery, staying away from all medication except pain killers and eating raw food like mango with yogurt, milk and honey, and taking lots of Vitamin C. She also tried to rest a lot and do breathing exercises. 
“Calm yourself first if hit by the virus, try your best to be cured at your will but if the symptoms still get worse, see a doctor,” Khan said. “At 75, I put myself on strict care as I was the most vulnerable.”


Pakistan’s new 'political map' projects decades-old position on Kashmir, experts say

Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistan’s new 'political map' projects decades-old position on Kashmir, experts say

  • Maps are not without significance in international law and global litigation over territorial disputes, top legal expert says
  • Opposition urges government to circulate map among all embassies and international forums to convey official position on disputed territory

ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan has exercised its executive authority by formally laying claim to the disputed Himalayan territory of Jammu and Kashmir in a new political map, experts said on Wednesday, adding that the move was in line with the country’s decades-old position on Kashmir since it had always maintained that the region was illegally occupied by India.
Prime Minister Imran Khan unveiled Pakistan’s new map on Tuesday, showing the entire area of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan as its territory. The decision was made in response to a similar step taken by India which released its own political map in October last year depicting Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, both territories governed by Pakistan, as being part of India.
The Muslim majority Himalayan valley of Kashmir remains disputed between the two South Asian neighbors since 1947. Both claim it in full but rule only parts of it. Both countries have also fought at least two full-scale wars over the territory, making the world community describe the region as a potential nuclear flashpoint.
Last year, India revoked the special status of the disputed Himalayan region’s autonomy.
“By issuing this map, Pakistan has exercised its executive authority to document its position regarding its territorial dispute with India,” Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a top Pakistani expert of international law, told Arab News.
He said that Pakistan’s action was well within the framework of international law and in keeping with the relevant United Nations resolutions promising plebiscite in the region.
“Pakistan has also reiterated its stance [through the map] that India’s illegal annexation of occupied Kashmir through last year’s presidential decree is not recognized by it,” he said, adding that territorial claims over disputed regions could be exercised through legislation, executive action and judicial pronouncements.
“Pakistan’s decision to use the executive authority in this case may also be followed by its legislative action,” he said.
Soofi said the new map would help Pakistan contest its case over Kashmir at international forums, including the UN.
“Maps are not without sanctity and significance in international law and global litigation over territorial disputes,” he said.
Pakistan’s foreign office said the new map was “essential for firmly rejecting the political map issued by India” last year, adding that New Delhi had made “false territorial claims on Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.”
“The political map emphatically reasserts Pakistan’s stated position [on Kashmir],” Aisha Farooqui, the foreign office spokesperson, told Arab News.
“Pakistan’s consistent stance on Jammu and Kashmir, anchored in the United Nations Security Council resolutions stipulating that the accession of the state will be through a UN-supervised plebiscite, is further reinforced as the map reaffirms this position,” she said.
The country’s largest opposition party in parliament, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), also endorsed the new map while urging the government to utilize all international avenues to get the dispute resolved peacefully.
“The government should clarify if it will be using the same map at international forums like the UN, or is it just for domestic consumption,” Muhammad Zubair, former governor of Sindh province and a senior PML-N leader, told Arab News.
He said that Pakistan should circulate the new map among all the embassies and international forums to tell the world about its position on the disputed territory. “The new map will be useless if it is only for optics,” Zubair said. “Let’s see how the government proceeds ahead with it.”
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, an Islamabad-based academic and expert in international relations, termed Pakistan’s decision to unveil the new map a “wise move.”
“This is a complete map of Pakistan showing our rightful claim over the disputed Kashmir region,” he said, “though it only seems to be for domestic consumption at the moment.”