Pakistan urges Canada to reconsider suspension of flights

High commissioner says Pakistan should not be bracketed with coronavirus-stricken India


DNA April 24, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan High Commissioner to Canada Raza Bashir Tarar on Saturday wrote to the Canadian government for reconsidering its decision of suspending all passenger flights from Pakistan for 30 days.

The high commissioner, in a letter to Canadian Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, drew attention to the fact that Pakistan, like all other countries, had been facing the epidemic but it had managed it well due to its strategy of smart lockdowns.

He said that Pakistan’s Covid related positive cases were 5,870 on Friday but in the Canadian announcement, Pakistan was bracketed with a country that had recorded 332,503 cases on the same day, a clear reference to India where overwhelmed hospitals in the densely-populated country begged for oxygen supplies.

India is in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic, hitting a rate of one Covid-19 death in just under every four minutes in Delhi as the capital's underfunded health system buckles.

Read more: Covid-19: Saudi Arabia imposes travel ban on Pakistan, other countries

The high commissioner noted that unlike the neighbouring country, there had been no new variant of Covid-19 developed in Pakistan and yet the Canadian media had quoted Health Minister Patty Hajdu as having said that “1.8 per cent cases detected so far are in travellers, but that eliminating direct travels from both India and Pakistan is intended to give health officials time to sequence and better understand the variant first detected in India”.

Tarar said the decision of suspending passenger flights from Pakistan betrayed a lack of understanding of the dynamics in South Asia as “it ignores the fact that both trains and flights are not operational between the two countries… so the ban on flights from Pakistan because a new variant has developed in another country whose population has no possibility of contact with Pakistan, defies logic”.

Also read: Iran halts flights with Pakistan, India amid spike in Covid-19 cases

He also called for seeing the positive test results of passengers after arriving in Canada in the context of their interaction in the society during the 72 hours before taking the flight.

He assured the minister that Pakistan’s testing mechanism was very robust and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) only accepted results from the best and well-reputed laboratories and matched them with the barcode on every result sheet.

In view of all this, he said the Canadian government should reconsider its decision and restart the passenger flights from Pakistan at the earliest.

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