Launching the emergency vaccination drive against Covid-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recounted India’s journey and fight against Covid-19. In that what came as a veiled dig at Pakistan, PM Modi said, “When countries left their citizens stuck in China amid the pandemic, India stepped up. We evacuated not only Indians but also people from other countries under Vande Bharat Mission,” PM Modi said.
It may be noted that Pakistan initially refused to airlift and evacuate its people from Wuhan, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. The country reportedly cited “larger interests” of the region defending its decision to not evacuate Pakistanis who were staying in China at that time.
The first case of Covid-19 in India was reported on January 30 in Kerala in a student returned from Wuhan. Soon, the ministry of external affairs and the civil aviation ministry arranged special flights to evacuate all people stranded in Wuhan.
Reports and videos of Pakistani students appealing for help to Air India evacuation jets in Wuhan went viral in February following which it was speculated whether India would offer help to Pakistani students as well.
In February, minister of external affairs S Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha that before India sent the first two Air India flights, it had offered to bring back all people in the neighbourhood. “This was an offer which was made to all our neighbours, but of them, seven nationals of Maldives chose to avail the offer. But the offer was made to everybody,” the minister had said.
Some Indian students had also chosen to stay back in Wuhan at that time. Four months later in May, Pakistan repatriated 270 students from Wuhan.
Source: Hindustan Times