Islamabad: The Foreign Office on Thursday advised the Pakistani community abroad to avoid all non-essential travel, stay clear from points of congregation and practice social-distancing in a responsible manner for the safety of their own and of all around.

“We advise our diaspora to exercise caution and personal responsibility for their personal health as well as of those in their family and communities in line with the advisories of local authorities wherever they may be,” Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said in her opening remarks at the weekly media briefing.

The regular briefing was held without reporters as part of social-distancing to contain spread of COVID-19. The Spokesperson’s opening statement was shown live through the official television channel, with her response on questions received from reporters through email to be updated later on FO website.

The FO Spokesperson said the role of media in building public awareness on safety and precaution during the difficult time, was crucial and deeply valued.

This challenge can only be tackled through collective action, she added.

Farooqui said COVID-19 was a rapidly evolving situation and the government and other stakeholders were monitoring, evaluating and coordinating all mechanisms and systems to ensure safety of the citizens.

She mentioned that Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also decided to take precautionary measures against

any potential public exposure and had therefore suspended all walk-in Consular Services except the attestation of Power of Attorney.

Attestation of documents can be carried out through courier companies during this period. Walk in Consular Services would remain suspended from 18 March till 3 April, and would be reviewed subsequently, she said.

She mentioned that the Ministry had also established a Crisis Management Unit for coordination on Covid-19 under the supervision of Special Secretary (Administration) to liaise with the diplomatic corps in Pakistan as well as with the missions abroad.

On the 228th day of the lockdown faced by the people in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Spokesperson said Pakistan condemned the inhuman and brutal repression of the people of IOJK by Indian security forces.

“In view of the outbreak of COVID-19 and reported cases of affected people in IOJK, Pakistan urges India to lift the blockade in the region in order to obtain full information on affected people and provision of essential items and medical supplies to the affected people,” she said.

The Spokesperson said given the depth and breadth of Pakistan-China ties and the finest traditions of both countries to always stand by each other, particularly in challenging times, President Dr. ArifAlvi’s first visit to Beijing was a singular expression of Pakistan’s solidarity with its “iron brother.”

She mentioned that the two sides reaffirmed their resolve to further strengthen China-Pakistan All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership aimed at building a Community of Shared Future in the New Era.