WION Edit: Is Pakistan sacrificing students for Chinese loans?

Delhi Feb 21, 2020, 01.00 PM(IST) Written By: WION

Family members hold signs demanding the evacuation of Pakistani students from Wuhan city, in Karachi, Pakistan. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Families desperate to see their kids return have even offered to pay for their quarantine, but Islamabad refuses to order an evacuation.

There is no other way to say this, Pakistan has abandoned its citizens in China. 

Islamabad is willing to contribute troops to fight the coronavirus on the frontlines, but it doesn't want to pull out its own citizens.

Pakistan's response to the coronavirus horror has been shocking. 

Imran Khan government has been incompetence on two fronts. One, Pakistan's health infrastructure isn't up to the task. Two, Pakistan is in no position to do anything that might upset China.

The price of this incompetence - practical and diplomatic - is being paid by its people.

The healthcare system in Pakistan is among the worst in the world - the facilities aren't adequate, the doctors aren't enough. 

WATCH: Is Pakistan sacrificing students for Chinese loans? 

Pakistan doesn't have a quarantine facility to keep a large number of people. It has more than a thousand citizens in China, if they are brought back, where will they be quarantined and under what conditions?

Pakistan has a little more than 230 thousand doctors and a population of more than 19 crore people. It's not for nothing that Pakistan remains one of the two last countries in the world which are still battling polio.

Last year, there was a major outbreak of HIV cases, exposing the inadequacies of the system. Handling the coronavirus may be beyond their best abilities and then there's Chinese pressure.

An evacuation sends the wrong message, it shows that China is weak, helpless and unable to handle the outbreak. When America had slapped travel restrictions on China, Beijing had termed the move as an overreaction.

As of last week, more than 50 countries and territories tightened their travel and visa requirements. Pakistan is among the very few nations which have taken no such measures. In the first week of February alone, Pakistan resumed commercial flights from China.

Families desperate to see their kids return have even offered to pay for their quarantine, but Islamabad refuses to order an evacuation.

Pakistan is firmly in the trap of Chinese debt, it cannot make any move against China. However, it can sacrifice young students to keep a credit line open. All this fits into a pattern - Pakistan won't call out China over its human rights violations. They also won't criticise Beijing for persecuting Muslims.

And now, they won't evacuate their citizens from the epicentre of a global health emergency. This is a wake-up call for BRI nations - the countries which have signed up for China's Belt and Road Project and are flush with Chinese money.

They are all in Chinese debt, they too could be compelled to make unreasonable concessions.

(Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)