Sunday September 26, 2021

Pakistan minister questions inclusion in UK's 'red list'

Asad Umar says move raises legitimate question whether choice of countries is based on science or foreign policy
Web Desk
April 03, 2021
Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar on Saturday questioned the United Kingdom's decision to place Pakistan on its "red list".

“Every country has a right to take decisions to safeguard the health of their citizens,” said Umar in a tweet a day after UK placed Pakistan on travel ban list.

The minister said that the recent decision by Boris Johnson-led government to add some countries, including Pakistan, to the "red list" due to rising COVID-19 cases raises the “legitimate question whether choice of countries is based on science or foreign policy”.

On Friday, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner announced that the UK has added Pakistan to its red list of travel ban countries.

"Red Listing means that only UK and Irish nationals and those with residency rights in the UK will be allowed to travel to the UK if they have been in Pakistan in the 10 days before they arrive," Turner said in a video message posted on Twitter.

The commissioner said passengers seeking to travel to the UK from Pakistan will have to pay for a mandatory quarantine stay at a hotel in the UK.

The measures will come into effect from April 9, 4:00am. The commissioner said direct flights between both countries will continue to operate as usual.

"But [their] schedules could change," Turner said.

Earlier, Geo News had learnt that the UK Government was considering including Pakistan in the high-risk "red list countries” due to the rapid spread of coronavirus in Pakistan.

Speaking to Geo News, a well-placed source had said that a high-level meeting between Pakistan and UK government officials had been held where the concerns of the British government regarding the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Pakistan was raised.

The Pakistani government and medical officials had earlier blamed the rise in cases on a coronavirus variant that was first reported in the UK.

The UK government had informed the Pakistani officials that it was thinking of imposing stricter requirements on Pakistani travellers.

The source said a high-level delegation was scheduled to visit London in this regard, but the plan was cancelled Wednesday evening after the British High Commission officials spoke to senior Pakistani officials and conveyed the position of the UK government.

Thousands have travelled from the UK to Pakistan in recent months as the UK went into a second lockdown. Many of them are still in the country on extended holidays.