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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said Pakistan had enhanced the capacity to bring back 7,000 stranded Pakistanis from abroad every week, and hoped that all the 60,000 stranded nationals would be repatriated before Eidul Fitr.
Addressing the US-based members of the Pakistani community via video link, he expressed the confidence that that figure would go up in the coming weeks, adding that it was the government's utmost endeavour to bring back all the registered 60,000 stranded Pakistanis before Eidul Fitr.
He said that 10,000 Pakistanis had already been repatriated from various countries via special flights, adding that the government was aware of the problems being faced by Pakistani citizens stuck abroad.
He said that Pakistani missions abroad had been directed to provide every possibly assistance to all the Pakistanis who were waiting to return back to their homes.
Qureshi further said that the government had taken the initiatives to protect the poor segments of the society and support the economy at the difficult juncture.
He said the support for the Prime Minister's Relief Fund for the Covid-19 was also encouraging.
The foreign minister recognised that the Pakistani community in the United States had always played a very vibrant role and demonstrated large heartedness.
He said the entire Pakistani nation was grateful to the contributions made by the Pakistani Americans during difficult times.
He said that the coronavirus respects no borders and collective efforts were required to deal with the unprecedented challenge.
In Pakistan, he added that according to the reports the highest number of cases of Covid-19 was expected by May 25.
He said that Pakistan was also facing economic crisis, but with the help of the international community, the government was making efforts to keep the economy on the track.
He said that Pakistan's exports had plummeted and remittances were estimated to go down by 22 to 23 percent.
Qureshi said that the fiscal deficits would go up and might be back in double-digits, from 9.5 to 10 percent of the country's GDP according to predictions, although the situation remains unpredictable.
The foreign minister referred to the plight of the Pakistanis in Gulf countries, adding that many Pakistanis were likely to lose their jobs due to oil crisis in the Gulf countries due to coronavirus pandemic.
On the direction of Prime Minister Irman Khan, Qureshi said that Rs144 billion had been allocated and Rs12,000 per deserving family was being distributed with the view to help them at this difficult time.
Additionally, he added that the government had developed a comprehensive National Action Plan to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic in coordination with the provinces.
He said that the government was taking all possible steps to prevent the spread of the virus on the one hand, while on the other, it was also striving to keep the economy on the right track.
The foreign minister urged the Pakistani Americans and philanthropists to assist the deserving Pakistani community and students together with the Pakistani embassy at this difficult time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020