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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Pakistan lobbying to exit UK Red-list on Aug 25

Pakistan’s High Commissioner (HC) to the UK Moazzam Ahmad Khan says UK's decision is based on the “wrong approach.” He is optimistic that the British government will remove Pakistan from its red list in the upcoming travel update on August 25.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner (HC) to United Kingdom Moazzam Ahmad Khan informed the Pakistani media that Pakistani authorities updates data weekly with the UK government yet they have chosen to ignore it and keep Pakistan on the travel restrictions list. “I am optimistic that Pakistan will come out of the red list on August 25,” the HC reported.

The News published a report stating that Pakistan had not delivered data to the UK government relating to the COVID-19 vaccination drive. However, Khan dismissed rumors of communication gaps between the two countries and emphasized that “We feel the system they [British authorities] have adopted to assess Pakistan does not present an accurate picture of our Covid-19 situation, and this needs to be corrected.”

Read more: India taken off UK’s red list but Pakistan stays?

The HC said it was “shocking” to hear about this. Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister, argued that the UK government was sending out “feeble excuses” to retain the country on the red list when it never really asked to be updated on Covid vaccination data.

In early April Pakistan and India were placed on the red list due to the increasing cases of the Delta variant. However, as of 8th August, the British government dropped India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE from the red list while Pakistan’s position remained unchanged. This not only faced criticism from Pakistanis but also British lawmakers.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah was “surprised” at the decision. She said, “the last time this government favored political choices rather than science and risked our nation’s Covid efforts, it failed to place India on the red list,” she  also added, “that led to the Delta variant becoming the most prominent Covid variant in the UK.”

Read more: PM Boris cancels trip as UK adds India to Covid travel ‘red list’

Yasmin Qureshi, who is a member of the UK Parliament for Bolton Southeast shared her disbelief, “the government is seeking to penalize Pakistan in favor of the potential economic benefit. This is clear and blatant discrimination towards Pakistan.”

HC Khan met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well on the matter. “I told PM Boris Johnson that the Pakistan community is frustrated and disappointed at the decision to keep Pakistan on the red list,” he said. PM Boris said he’d look into the matter but there was no guarantee set.

Read more: Pakistan added to England’s travel ‘red list’

The HC further added that “We have requested the UK govt that both sides should deal on a technical basis so that the decision should be made based on science and data.” HC Khan further boosted Pakistan’s confidence in containing covid by appreciating the efforts. He said that “We have fared better than stronger countries, some of which are on the green or amber list.”