50 UK lawmakers question Boris Johnson on Pakistan ‘red list’ travel ban

About British parliamentarians have questioned the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to imperatively answer and give confirmation on why Pakistan and Bangladesh have been added as “red-listed” countries starting from April 9, 2021.

The parliamentarian Yasmin Qureshi has written the letter to the chair of the All Parties Parliamentary Group on Pakistan (APPG), and got it signed by parliamentarians from the Labour and Conservative groups.

This is the biggest intercession yet made by the MPs after Pakistan and Bangladesh were incorporated into a list of risky countries and comes soon after British Pakistani lawyer Barrister Rashid Ahmed declared that he will be inducting a legitimate challenge to the UK government for abandoning out Pakistan.

The letter, passed to this reporter by Qureshi, questions the UK government’s decision to place Pakistan and Bangladesh on the travel “Red List” with the ban coming into force at very short notice at 4am on April 9, 2021.

It says: “The putting these countries on the red list will have a prominent impact on many natives of UK. The UK has over 1.1 million British Pakistanis and a large number of British Bangladeshis. While we support operations where there is a articulate need to act to safe the UK due to COVID-19, we have many concerns about the way this plan has been extended without providing clear proof for that decision.

“Many UK citizens have gone to those countries in by following the government’s COVID-19 guidelines. The huge majority will have travelled to see family, including older relatives, whom they may 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 travelled will have paid for return flights priced at around £500 which are now useless.” The MPs have said that the huge majority of UK residents currently in those countries will have had to redeem for some time to fly to Pakistan and Bangladesh..

The MPs demand 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. We are asking for the government to explore charter flight options or to provide financial support for those stranded. If this cannot be done, then measures need to be put in place to extend the cut-off date.”

The MPs have questioned why the UK government has not provided any data to support the travel ban.

The letter says: “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. The current rate of virus in Pakistan is also said to be lower than the UK. We would be thankful if the full data and proof can be given to show why these specific countries have been added to the red list and provide an immediate clarification of the decision. We would also like to know if the government has a guideline of how countries are added and removed from the red list to see the steadiness of how this is applied.”

The MPs have asked the PM to reply as to when the next review date will be to take out countries from the red list, so that constituents can make travel plans.