ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari has said expressed regrets over the United Kingdom’s discriminatory attitude towards the Pakistanis and its nationals of Pakistani origin.
The minister, in a tweet, said: “This is a discriminatory approach towards Pakistanis and Britishers of Pak origin is yet another reflection of putting Pakistan in list of Red Zone countries but leaving out states like India – which has one of the fastest spirals of COVID cases plus a new lethal variant also.
Taking to the Twitter she held: “This is absolutely shameful – these people have paid 1750 pounds per person to undergo 10 days of compulsory quarantine in UK and are being treated in this inhumane manner simply because they happen to be of Pak origin.”
It may be recalled that several British parliamentarians have asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urgently respond with full data and evidence as to why Pakistan and Bangladesh have been added to the ‘Red List’ countries starting from 9th of April.
Chair of All Parties Parliamentary Group on Pakistan (APPG) Yasmin Qureshi MP sent a letter to PM Johnson signed by parliamentarians from Labour and Conservatives questioning the UK government’s decision of putting a travel ban that came into force at a very short notice.
Also, British Pakistani lawyer Barrister Rashid Ahmed announced of initiating a proper legal challenge to the UK government for singling out Pakistan.
The letter said the countries on the Red List would have a huge impact on many UK residents.
It said: “The UK has over 1.1m British Pakistanis and a large number of British Bangladeshis in the UK. Whilst we support measures where there is a clear need to act to protect the UK in relation to COVID-19, we have major concerns about the way this plan has been implemented without providing clear evidence for that decision.”
The letter mentioned that many UK citizens traveled to those countries in accordance with the government’s COVID-19 guidelines as their vast majority traveled to visit families, including elderly relatives, whom they might not have seen for over a year.
“They will have already paid for return flights but are now in a position where they will have to pay for new flights in order to return before the ban is put in place. Flight costs are currently around £2,000 per single ticket. Most of the people, who have traveled, will have paid for return flights priced at around £500 which are now useless,” it said.
The MPs said the vast majority of UK residents currently in those countries would have had to save up for some time to fly to Pakistan and Bangladesh.
They asked to either arrange chartered flights or extend the cut-off date for return of the UK residents.
The MPs demanded in the letter: “We feel that the government should do everything it can to help our constituents left stranded by this decision. They are being put into a position of either being stuck abroad or getting into considerable debt to pay to get home.”
The MPs questioned as to why the UK government had not provided any data to support the travel ban.
“We have major concerns about the lack of available data, and evidential and scientific reasoning which have been used to put these countries on the Red List. Based on available data, many other countries not on the Red List have more positive COVID tests per 100,000 people than Pakistan.”
They stressed that the current rate of infection in Pakistan was also reportedly lower than the UK and also asked for a road-map that how countries were added and removed from the Red List.
The MPs, who signed the letter, include Rushanara Ali, Chair of the APPG on Bangladesh; Rehman Chishti, former Chair of the APPG on Pakistan; Afzal Khan, Chair of the APPG on Britain-Pakistan Trade and Tourism; Debbie Abrahams, Tahir Ali, Paula Barker, Apsana Begum Hilary Benn, Paul Blomfield, Tracy Brabin, Dawn Butler, Liam Byrne, Ruth Cadbury, Stella Creasy, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Clive Efford, Margaret Ferrier, Mary Kelly Foy, Lilian Greenwood, Andrew Gwynne, Emma Hardy, Rachel Hopkins, Rupa Huq, Imran Hussain, Kim Johnson, Khalid Mahmood, Shabana Mahmood, Seema Malhotra, John McDonnell, Navendu Mishra, Matthew Offord, Kate Osborne, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Naz Shah, Virendra Sharma, Henry Smith, Jeff Smith, Royston Smith, Stephen Timms, Kelly Tolhurst, Claudia Webbe, Mick Whitley MP, Mohammad Yasin and Valerie Vaz.
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