Pakistan has announced that it will not evacuate its citizens from Wuhan and other places in China the midst of the Coronavirus crisis. Its decision, according to the Imran Khan-led government, is an ‘act of solidarity’ towards its ‘all-weather ally’ China. Four Pakistani citizens have been affected by the virus thus far. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza said that it was not advisable to evacuate Pakistanis from China, saying that the government will demonstrate responsible behaviour and not become a part in spreading the virus.
He said that WHO has also advised that foreigners currently in China should not be evacuated, and at present China is also not allowing this.
Although Pakistan claims that it is motivated by its goodwill towards its ally China, it is much more likely that the government does not wish to take back its citizens because there’s a likelihood that it might spread to other Pakistanis as a consequence. It is more likely that Pakistan’s decision is motivated by cold-blooded pragmatism rather than any other reason.
As per reports, there are up to 800 Pakistani students studying in Wuhan, the city which has been quarantined by the Chinese regime in response to the crisis. “We believe that right now, it is in the interest of our loved ones in China (to stay there). It is in the largest interest of the region, world, country that we don’t evacuate them now,” Dr Zafar Mirza was quoted by Pakistani media as saying.
“This is what the WHO is saying, this is China’s policy and this is our policy as well. We are standing with China in full solidarity,” he said. “Right now the government of China has contained this epidemic in Wuhan city. If we act irresponsibly and start evacuating people from there, this epidemic will spread all over the world like wildfire,” Dr Mirza said. However, some Pakistani students in Wuhan have complained that they are not being taken care of by the Chinese authorities.
The death toll has already reached a staggering number of 132, most of whom lived in China’s Wuhan city. There have been more than 6100 confirmed cases of coronavirus exposure since the outbreak began almost a month ago. Most patients are between 55-87 years old. As such, many tourist places have been shut down and festivities cancelled. Meanwhile, India’s first confirmed case has been reported from Kerala.
Most affected is the Wuhan city, where the virus outbreak was first reported. Along with Wuhan, the Chinese authorities have locked down 18 cities in the country to prevent the virus from spreading. All flights, trains and other modes of transportation going out these cities have been suspended, meaning people in these places can’t leave the cities.