Asad Umar slams United Kingdom for placing Pakistan on its “red list”

 ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar slammed the United Kingdom for placing Pakistan on its “red list”, saying that the placement raises the “question whether the choice of countries is based on science or foreign policy”.

“Every country has a right to take decisions to safeguard the health of their citizens,” tweeted Asad Umar.

The development comes as earlier, 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, 4:00 am. The commissioner said direct flights between both countries will continue to operate as usual. But their schedules could change, Turner said.

Earlier, the UK Government was considering including Pakistan in the high-risk “red list countries” due to the rapid spread of coronavirus in Pakistan.

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 travelers.

Thousands have traveled 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.

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.