A Pakistan diplomat’s wife and two children, who crossed over from Attari-Wagah border, have become the first to avail the benefit of new guidelines issued by the Ministry of External Affairs designed to facilitate the return of diplomats and their families amid coronavirus induced pandemic.
“Wife and two kids of Pakistan diplomat crossed into India on May 23. They will not be kept in quarantine at Amritsar.
Instead, they will go to Delhi to remain in home quarantine,” said a health official. “The MEA had requested facilitation for return of diplomats and their families who are assigned to the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi along with their family members via Attari Integrated Check Post (ICP) on May 23 and 26,” he added.
According to the letter issued by the MEA, the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi had convoyed that the diplomats and their family members will be carrying Covid-19 RT-PCR negative test result, at the time of their entry into India via Attari ICP and they would submit required undertaking and self-declaration, as per the existing guidelines of the Government of India.
“They will proceed directly from the Attari ICP, to the High Commission of Pakistan residences where they have agreed to self quarantine themselves within the Embassy premises. Their return will be guided by the guidelines dated May 14 issued for the return of accredited diplomats by the MEA,” the letter states.
While issuing the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to assist return of accredited diplomats (holders of diplomatic or official/service passports) who were away from India, stranded either in their home country or in a third country, at the time of imposition of lockdown measures, the MEA had said that a diplomat will have to get Covid-19 RT-PCR testing done, and those declared negative, will be allowed to travel to India by non-scheduled commercial or chartered flights.
The foreign diplomat, before boarding the aircraft, shall give an undertaking that he/she would undergo mandatory home quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days on arrival. However, the diplomat will have to go through health screening on arrival.
Meanwhile, the movement of trucks into Pakistan side of ICP has already begun as trade between India and Afghanistan via ICP is set to resume after Eid.
Pakistan had stopped the trade via Attari after abrogation of Article 370. However, trade with Afganistan via ICP had come to a halt following the coronavirus outbreak. Though the trade with Afganistan is set to resume, no health protocol is in place so far to facilitate it.
“Some system will evolve with the resumption of trade to keep Covid-19 in check. It has not been discussed so far,” said a customs official. Nodal health officer for ICP, Dr Naresh Chawla said, “I have not get any intimation yet about resumption of trade.
Trade means there would be movement of goods and people and that would increase the risk of coronavirus.
We would need a system to keep check on spread of the virus.” Nearly 10,000 coronavirus cases have been reported so far in Afghanistan.
Trade with Afganistan is possible only via road link through Pakistan, which too has 52,000 cases. However, it is not sure how drivers and conductors from Pakistan and Afghanistan, who would bring goods in trucks, will be dealt at the ICP. Also there will be Officials of Land Port Authority of India, warehouse, and customs to facilitate the trade.
Traders, their employees and labourers will also require to come to ICP for this purpose. “We will design guidelines as soon as I get any information related to resumption of trade.
So far we have been keeping eye on passengers crossing border with special permission,” said Chawla.