From education to work, the Coronavirus pandemic negatively affected every aspect of life. Millions of overseas Pakistani students and workers came back to the homeland amid crippling lockdowns and restrictions imposed to curb the transmission of the deadly virus across the world.
They started going back to resume their education and work once COVID-19 vaccines became widely available all over the world and the Coronavirus vaccination rates also went up in Pakistan.
However, thousands of Pakistani students enrolled in Chinese universities who were sent back by the Chinese government at the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak in China have not been allowed by the Chinese government to return and resume their education.
Almost two years have passed since thousands of Pakistani students came back to the country when the Chinese government imposed strict nationwide lockdown including the suspension of all sorts of academic activities in the country.
Although China, which was the ground zero of the deadly viral outbreak, has already managed to overcome the Coronavirus outbreak and life has returned to normalcy in the country.
Moreover, thousands of Chinese workers working on different projects of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have already returned to Pakistan, and development work on these projects is in full swing again.
Chinese workers returned despite Pakistan facing severe outbreaks of the Coronavirus, which prompted travel bans on the country from all over the world. These bans have now been lifted and fully vaccinated Pakistani students and workers can travel all over the world without any hassle.
However, it is only the Pakistani students enrolled in Chinese universities who are being denied entry in China to resume their studies despite being fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus.
These students have knocked at the door of every ministry to get their issue resolved but to no avail. Their request is straightforward: either get Chinese universities to offer online classes of the disciplines that do not require physical lab work or get them to China to resume their education. Otherwise, a number of years of the academic careers of thousands of Pakistani students would go to waste.
ProPakistani has contacted the Pakistani Foreign Ministry and Pakistani Embassy in Beijing in this regard. However, at the time of writing this article, they have not issued any statement on the matter.
Foreign Office Responds
Speaking in this regard, spokesperson for the Foreign Office, Asim Iftikhar Ahmed, has said that the matter of Pakistani students who are studying in China has been discussed with the Chinese Foreign Office and it will be resolved soon.
He added that Pakistan and China have a very robust bilateral cooperation and that includes people-to-people exchanges and education. China is one of the major destinations for our students. There are over 28,000 Pakistani students undertaking studies in different Chinese educational institutions. Pakistan is also one of the biggest recipients of Chinese scholarships.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China extended maximum facilitation to our students for their well-being and continued study. China also extended full support in our efforts to look after our students in Wuhan and in their travel to Pakistan after the restrictions were lifted. We appreciate the cooperation extended by the Chinese side.
The two countries attach great importance to the well-being and the continued education of Pakistani students. We believe that these students are an asset to our time-tested friendship and a bridge between the two countries.
Both the countries are constantly engaged in resolving the important issue of the return of Pakistani students to China. And the issue has been discussed at various levels with the Chinese authorities both in Beijing and Islamabad.
We understand the measures taken by China to curtail the spread of the virus.
We are also exploring the possibility of addressing the issues of research, lab work, scholarship, etc. with the relevant Pakistani and Chinese authorities and institutions.
Meanwhile, we expect all Pakistani students to continue regularly attending online classes to meet the academic requirements. We shall keep the students informed.