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.”
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.
Ridiculous! UK govt, dominated by Indophiles & despite globally documented India's continuing disastrous handling of Covid pandemic, moved India to Amber List but keeps Pak on Red; then under pressure from Opp MPs gives feeble excuse Pak didn't share datahttps://t.co/05FAAVO4NL
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) August 9, 2021
Had a session with some UK MP's regarding continuation of Pakistan on the red list. Shared data regarding covid disease surveillance and explained Pak strategy for covid response. Will engage with UK govt to try and ensure that red list decisions are based on science not politics pic.twitter.com/yn1qgHmMyW
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) August 7, 2021
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.”
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.”
Despite Pakistan not having any variants of concern, it remains on the red list.
I have questioned the Govt directly, spoken in parliament, asked parl qs, and coordinated letters, to no avail.
India, where the delta variant originated, is now amber.https://t.co/rQN9YqXuCt
— Yasmin Qureshi MP (@YasminQureshiMP) August 4, 2021
— Naz Shah MP 💙 (@NazShahBfd) August 5, 2021
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.
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.”