Tuesday, August 16, 2022

British MPs criticise UK govt for keeping Pakistan on ‘red list’, promoting India to amber

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LONDON: British lawmakers have criticised their government for keeping Pakistan on its ‘red list’ whilst promoting India to the ‘amber list’ for international travel despite a clear difference in the COVID-19 situation in both countries.

The criticism was launched by some British MPs following updated travel listings issued by the UK government where Pakistan and other countries were placed on high-risk countries’ red list while India will be promoted to medium risk countries’ ‘amber list’ from August 8 along with Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan had been placed on the red list in early April and India on April 19 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and detection of the Delta variant following the UK’s ‘traffic light’ system for international travel.

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi said in a series of Twitter messages, the UK Government and the Secretary of State for Transport announced that the UAE, Qatar, India, and Bahrain will be moved to the amber list for travel – that’s great. She added, “But Pakistan remains on the red list.”

Yasmin Qureshi MP said, “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.”

While criticising the decision, “The Government is seeking to penalise Pakistan in favour of the potential economic benefit. This is clear and blatant discrimination towards Pakistan. To add insult to injury, the hotel quarantine cost is set to increase by between £450-£800, to a total of £2.2k.”

The lawmaker announced to write a letter to the British transport minister, Grant Shapps, to raise the issue.

‘Callous behaviour’

Bradford West MP Naz Shah said in a statement, “I am surprised that India has moved to the amber list, whilst Pakistan remains on the red list. It is not the first time that this government has shown such callous behaviour when dealing with the quarantine traffic light system.”

She highlighted, “India’s seven-day infection rate is 20 per 100,000 people and is now on the amber list but Pakistan, whose seven-day infection rate is just 14 per 100,000 people – well below the vast majority of amber list destinations, remains on the red list.”

“The last time this government favoured political choices rather than science and risked our nation’s Covid efforts, it failed to place India on the red list. That led to the Delta Variant becoming the most prominent Covid variant in the UK.”

“Whilst families have been forced away from loved ones for months, it is unacceptable for decisions to be made in such ways,” said Naz Shah. She announced that she will be raising the issue further.

‘Tough to see the reasoning’

Labour MP for Luton North Sawah Owen said in a Twitter message, “It’s tough to see the reasoning behind latest changes to travel lists, even when vaccination rates are taken into account.”

“When you see figures like this, Tory Ministers have a lot of explaining to do as to why India is going amber yet Pakistan & other countries remain red.”

” Decisions taken in isolation with no scrutiny are never good for the people we seek to represent. These decisions have big health/personal consequences. Many people don’t want to holiday, it’s to see the family they’ve not seen for over a year or say goodbye to loved ones.”

‘No scientific reason’

Federal Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari, censured the UK government, saying that Britain was playing politics on Covid restrictions and “there was no scientific reason for this discrimination”.

Shireen Mazari said, “Only politics coming into play again — UK cabinet showing clear political proclivity towards India. Unfortunate indeed.”

Online petition

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry posted an online petition to demand the British government for removing Pakistan from its red list for international travel.

The petition will be considered for debate in the British parliament after it gets 100,000 signatures.

Following the updated travel instructions, the United Kingdom (UK) will end mandatory quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers returning to England and Scotland from France as well.

The country also added Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway to its green list.

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