Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Moazzam Ahmad Khan, has said that he was hopeful of his country being removed from the travel red list in the next review scheduled for later this month. Khan said that he had received an assurance from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during their recent meeting.
According to the top Pakistani diplomat, Johnson told him that the UK was ‘looking into’ the prospect of removing Pakistan from the travel red list when the two met at Sandhurst military academy on Friday.
“We feel the system they [British authorities] have adopted to assess Pakistan does not present an accurate picture of our COVID-19 situation, and this needs to be corrected,” Khan was quoted by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
He added, “This is not criticism, but it is important to share our point of view. There is no communication gap, we are constantly in touch with them.
“In fact, I had an opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Johnson and brought it to his attention that keeping Pakistan on the red list has left both people in Pakistan and the diaspora frustrated and disappointed.
“He said ‘we are looking into it’.”
Pakistan was placed in the red list countries in early April this year days before the British government included India in that list. However, India was removed from the list of banned countries last week. The decision to remove India from the red list had evoked angry reactions from British MPs of Pakistani origin such as Khalid Mahmood, who wrote a scathing letter to the government.
Mahmood, a Labour MP, had questioned the rationale behind removing India from the red list while not according the similar treatment to Pakistan.
The UK has adopted the traffic light system to restrict the flow of visitors from foreign countries. While anyone arriving from a red-list country is required to remain in a hotel quarantine for 11 days, those coming from amber list countries must isolate themselves inside their homes for 10 days. Only visitors from green list countries are not subjected to either hotel quarantine or home isolation.
The British government has, however, changed the rule for people arriving from amber list countries if they are fully vaccinated in the UK. The Tory government recently also allowed fully vaccinated people from the US and the EU to enter the UK without having to quarantine themselves.
Last week, the UK the cost of mandatory hotel quarantine for those arriving from red list countries to £2,285 from earlier £1,750 for an adult travelling alone. The cost of additional adult travelling in a group has now increased to £1,430 from £650.