ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has warmly welcomed the British government’s decision of relaxing its travel advisory for British nationals due to improved security situation in Pakistan.
“Today’s announcement is the result of a comprehensive review of UK travel advice for Pakistan, based on a wide-ranging assessment of the country’s security situation,” read a statement issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Friday, quoted by the British high commissioner.
The UK FCO provides travel advice based on objective information to help British nationals make better informed decisions about foreign travel. It’s the first major update in the travel advice since 2015.
According to an estimate, 484,000 British nationals visited Pakistan in 2018 and twenty-two weekly direct flights used to be operated to the UK.
Reacting to the ‘great news’, Prime Minister ImranKhan said the development would help his government address two key economic issues facing the country today – unemployment and current account deficit. “This is great news as it will address two most important econ issues facing Pak today: employment and our current account deficit, by bringing in tourism and investment which in turn will provide employment opportunities specially for our youth,” he said in a message on Twitter.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also lauded the move, saying, “This change in travel advice is encouraging … [and] will further strengthen Pak-UK relations.
“Pakistan; Land of peace and progress with incredible natural beauty, warmth & hospitality. This change in travel advice is encouraging, the first major update to the UK’s travel advisory to Pakistan since 2015. This will further strengthen Pak-UK relations. Welcome to Pakistan,” he wrote in a tweet.
Dr Aisha Farooqui, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also welcomed the UK FCO’s move of relaxing its travel advice for the British nationals.
“Government and people of Pakistan welcome the comprehensive review of travel advisory for British citizens travelling to Pakistan. A positive step forward, forging even stronger and closer people-to-people links between Pakistan and the UK,” she said on Twitter.
“Look forward to welcoming more tourists, investors, academics and other visitors from the UK,” she added. The improved security situation allowed for the return of British Airways to Pakistan in June 2019 and the visit by Prince Williams and Kate Middleton the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in October 2019.
Among other changes, the advice now allows for travel by road to the northern areas of the country as well as the Kalash and Bamboret valleys.
“Following my arrival in December 2019, I made this review of the travel advice a priority. It is great credit to the hard work of the Government of Pakistan in delivering improved security over the past five years. I am delighted that British nationals will be able to see more of what Pakistan has to offer,” Dr Christian Turner, British High Commissioner to Pakistan said in a video statement.