The Pakistan Embassy is Not Taking Adequate Responsibility for Pakistani Students Stranded in China

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Claim: The Chinese government and Pakistan Embassy are fulfilling the needs of Pakistani students quarantined in China. 

Fact: Many students are not being taken care of and have not been provided meals. Moreover, the Pakistani embassy in Wuhan is not cooperating or answering their calls.

Verdict: Mostly false

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus a global emergency. The death toll rose to 170 on 30 January and according to Chinese health authorities, as of 29 January, there were  7,711 confirmed cases in the country. There have been confirmed cases of coronavirus in at least 15 other countries, but Pakistan is yet to report a confirmed case. 

Wuhan, in the province of Hubei, has been identified as the epicentre of the outbreak. The city, which is an education hub with over 30 colleges and universities housing thousands of foreign students, has been sealed off. Transport in and out of the city has been restricted. There are approximately 28,000 Pakistani students in China, and around 500 Pakistani students in Wuhan specifically. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza confirmed that at least four Pakistani students studying in China have already been infected with the virus. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, and the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan have released statements saying students are being cared for and have access to food and medical supplies. Furthermore, students have been encouraged to contact the embassy if they face any further problems. 

There have been conflicting reports on social media regarding the conditions in which these students have been quarantined. Videos surfaced on Twitter and Facebook of students saying are not being given meals and that the embassy is not cooperating with them. On the other hand, another video tweeted by an account with 15.9K followers, called Pak-China Institute apparently showed Pakistani students saying they are being well looked after. This video has now been deleted after other social media users said that those speaking are not actually students. 

Three Pakistani students who are stranded in Hubei told Soch that they are short of food and water and that the Pakistani embassy has been uncooperative. Soch asked the students to share their university identification cards in order to verify if they are indeed Pakistani students enrolled in Chinese universities. 

Usama Anser, a medical student at Hubei Polytechnic University, told Soch he is not allowed to leave campus and while the university is providing food for them, there is a shortage of food supply. Moreover, he says the embassy does not respond to their calls and has not helped the Pakistani students at his university in any substantial way. 

Usama Anser’s video statement

Hamad Iftikhar, a medical student at the Hubei University of Science and Technology tells Soch the students are confined in their dormitories and are not allowed to leave. He says he has not been able to get access to drinking water since the last four days and will likely run out of food in the next two days. He added that it has been very difficult to get in touch with the Pakistan Embassy and when he did manage to contact them over the phone, they could not offer much support. 

Hamad Iftikhar’s video statement

Dr Zafar Mirza announced on 30 January that it is not possible for Pakistani students to be evacuated from China and brought back to Pakistan since the country does not have the resources to be able to deal with the potential spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. He added that evacuations would endanger Pakistanis, the region and the world. Dr Mirza said the Pakistani government has made its decision in accordance with the recommendations of WHO. 

Summary: The Pakistani Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not provided adequate support for all Pakistani students who are trapped in China due to the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. 

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