By Haider Kaleem

 

Around 300 Pakistani students stranded in Bangladesh are yearning to return home, as the world fights the Coronavirus in lockdown which was imposed on March 18.

The students say they have been facing immense difficulties in procuring essential items for themselves, and are running short of food. But despite reassurances from the Pakistan High Commission that they will be repatriated soon, they have been awaiting their return for nearly four weeks.

The students had received a SAARC scholarship to study abroad in Bangladesh and were enrolled in the Islamic University of Technology, Dhaka Medical College and Asian University for Women in Chittagong. Around 100 of the recipients of the scholarship are medical students.

In a conversation with Voicepk.net, Muhammad Bin Amir, a Pakistani student of Dhaka Medical College since 2017, said that some students received ration packs from the Pakistan High Commission, however, they were not informed of any existing procedure to evacuate them from Bangladesh.

“If we book a ticket for a flight back home, the departure date keeps getting delayed until it is finally canceled,” he said. “None of us have been able to return home in the past month. There is barely anything in the market, so many of us are making do with just bread. Our parents are worried sick about us, and now Ramadan is also approaching. I’m begging our Prime Minister to help us.”

Voicepk.net reached out to the First Secretary of the Pakistan High Commission, Waqar Ahmed, who declined to comment.

In the past four days, citizens stranded in Japan, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, and Singapore were brought back to Pakistan via special PIA flights.

Ironically enough, Pakistan announced a contribution of $3 million in the emergency fund for SAARC to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in SAARC countries, the very forum which awarded scholarships to Pakistani students in Bangladesh.