Pakistan News

British MPs write to Johnson over Pakistan ban

British MPs write to Johnson over Pakistan ban

LONDON: About 50 members of parliament signed a letter addressed to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, demanding charter flights for stranded citizens in Pakistan and Bangladesh. They also asked for clarity on when the ‘red list’ would be reviewed.

Led by Yasmin Qureshi, a British Pakistani MP for Bolton South East, the letter said the ban came into force at a short notice and that travellers had been “put into a position of either being stuck abroad or getting into considerable debt” to pay to get home. The MPs asked the government to explore charter flight options or provide financial support for stranded UK residents.

“If this cannot be done, then measures need to be put in place to extend the cut-off date,” the letter said, adding: “The vast majority of UK residents currently in those countries will have had to save up for some time to fly over there. Most are not risk or even moderately wealthy people but are working class citizens.”

The UK government announced last week that Pakistan would be added to the ‘red list’ of countries, a travel curb that is effective from April 9. Passengers from Pakistan will be denied entry to the UK unless they are British or Irish nationals or have residency rights. The cost for one adult in a hotel room for 10 days is £1,750, which does not include the mandatory £210 each passenger has to pay for testing in this period.

The letter raised concerns about “lack of available data and evidential and scientific reasoning” behind Pakistan’s inclusion on the ‘red list’. It noted that the current rate of infection in Pakistan is reported to be lower than the UK.

The MPs also asked the government to clarify when the next review date would be for removing countries from the red list “so constituents can make realistic travel plans”.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2021

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