MULTAN - Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said that at least 39,748 Pakistanis stuck abroad got themselves registered with the Crisis Management Cell established by the Foreign Ministry for repatriation. “We’ve set up this cell to bring those Pakistanis back who are stuck abroad due to coronavirus outbreak. The cell is working round-the-clock. We’re in contact with the foreign offices of 30 countries and we’ll bring them back gradually under SOPs once the arrangements are made,” he declared while addressing a news conference here at Circuit House. The FM handed over Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) to doctors of Multan sent by Foreign Office Women Association on this occasion.

He said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan had appealed to the UN Secretary General and global leaders to give relief to 75 developing countries in their debt payments. “The UN Secretary General has supported Prime Minister’s appeal. We’re grateful to him for this support. The IMF representative has also supported our stance,” he added. He said that the G-20 countries extended relief to developing countries in loans their April 15 meeting and this step would enable them to fight against COVID-19 more effectively.

He said that relief in loan payments was a big diplomatic success of Pakistan. He pointed out that the COVID-19 seriously dented global economy. He added that the virus outbreak affected 209 countries of the world including US, UK and Europe. He said that the US announced $ 2 trillion package while Pakistan $ 8 billion as per our capacity.

The FM said the governments of Punjab, Sindh, and KPK refused to open their airports due to absence of arrangements on which only Islamabad airport was opened. “Now the provincial governments have agreed to open airports. Pakistanis stuck at Dubai, Doha, Tashkent, London and Bangkok have been brought back and today first flight from Saudi Arabia landed in Multan,” he said Saturday. He also disclosed that Qatar Airways was going to start operation for British Citizens stuck in Pakistan. He revealed that 38 persons coming from different areas of the world were found infected in screening at Islamabad Airport.

About the state-run cash relief scheme, he said that complaints regarding deduction from the payment were received from some areas especially Sindh. “It is a highly immoral act and the deserving person must get full payment,” he asserted. He said that 138,000 families of Multan district had received support fund.

Qureshi said the Prime Minister had announced a special package for the construction industry while interest rate was also decreased considerably in view of reservations of traders. He hoped that it would give relief to the traders. He said that he would raise voice for the doctors of Multan in next meeting of National Coordination Committee and talk to the Prime Minister. “I request Chief Minister Punjab to send Health Minister and Secretary Health to Multan to listen to the frontline doctors fighting against Corona and resolve their problems on priority,” he added.