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90 MPs ask UK govt to repatriate stranded Britons in Pakistan

LONDON: The 90 British parliamentarians have urged the British government to ensure immediate steps to repatriate around 6,000 stranded Britons in

Pakistan and consider making special arrangements for their repatriation.

Labour MP Afzal Khan has written to UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab requesting the urgent repatriation of British nationals in Pakistan.

The letter has been signed by 90 members of Parliament which include Naz Shah MP for Bradford West, Imran Hussain MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Claudia Webbe MP, Sam Tarry MP, Mohammad Yasin MP, former shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP, Lord Nazir Ahmed and many others.

Afzal Khan, who is Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and Member of Parliament from Gorton in Manchester, and is also a part of Labour's shadow cabinet highlighted his suspicions on the ability of

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to bring back all Britons safely.

In the letter: he writes, "Given many of our constituents recent experiences of PIA, who have cancelled numerous flights to the UK at the last minute after charging nearly £1000 per ticket, most British nationals have little trust in PIA to carry them home.

"It is deeply disappointing to see our government leaving British nationals at the hands of commercial enterprises, capitalising on this crisis."

MP Afzal Khan further stated that there were over 6,000 British nationals who were looking for urgent repatriation but the special flights announced by the governments of Pakistan and the UK were not enough to bring all of them back.

Speaking to The News, Afzal Khan said he understood that British government has launched chartered flights for several countries including several flights from India to bring over British citizens. He questioned why the govt has not done the same for Pakistani where at one point more than 10,000 Britons were stranded.

MP Naz Shah has also taken up the issue of stranded Britons in Pakistan and has also held a live telephone call with Pakistan's Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, Zulfiqar Bukhari. Due to collective efforts of Pakistani origin parliamentarians, the government of Pakistan had announced a price cap of £750 per flight each way but it has been reported that many flights had been charged much more than that. A great number of flights did not operate despite the tickets being sold.

Many stranded Britons are facing immense financial difficulties due to cancelled flights. A sizeable number of stranded Britons are short term visitors whose livelihoods have been impacted due to the unavailability of flights.

While MP Afzal Khan appreciated the commencement of loans by the UK government for stranded Britons, he said: "The availability of loans is, of course, welcome, however for many of our constituents, this does not go far enough. Short term loans to cover the immediate costs of returning home are helpful but in the long term, these nationals will still have to pay for the chaotic mismanagement of PIA and the British repatriation effort.

"Is the government considering any other forms of financial forms or financial aid or other help to alleviate the economic difficulties nationals now find themselves in?"

The British government has come under immense scrutiny by British Pakistanis who feel left out of the

£70 million package announced to repatriate stranded Britons abroad. While special flights were arranged by the British government for stranded citizens in Peru, India and even The Philippines, British citizens in Pakistan were not accorded the same privilege.

A spokesman of PIA said that it was dealing with unusual situation and doing everything to bring over Pakistanis stranded in Pakistan.