Blatant discrimination against Pakistan


UK High Court ruling keeps Pakistan on Red List

Britain’s current policy of keeping Pakistan on “Red List” for travellers coming from and going to Pakistan has been widely condemned by people from all walks of life.

Campaigners in the UK, including two MPs have slammed the Government for keeping Pakistan on the Red List in its latest travel update. Mr. Grant Shapps’ latest announcement has put India on the Amber List from August 8, while neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh were retained on the Red List. This move has provoked a furious response from the Pakistani community in Britain.


Tens of thousands of people have added their names to a petition calling to remove Pakistan from Red List for travel. Until now this petition has 133,000 signatures. The petition, which was started in April shortly after Pakistan first went on the red list and has amassed 133,000 signatures, states: “Thousands of people are stuck in Pakistan! Families are struggling financially and don’t have enough to pay this penalty! No direct flights are being run! Help us come home!” 

Signatures on the petition include a number of supporters from Birmingham, including 3,327 people in Hodge Hill, 2,473 in Hall Green, 1,484 in Yardley, 1,2861 from Ladywood, and hundreds more in other areas in and around the city including Walsall South, Perry Barr, Warley, Erdington, Selly Oak, Solihull, Dudley and Wolverhampton. 

MPs Yasmin Qureshi (Labour, Bolton South East) and Naz Shah (Labour, Bradford West) are among those who have criticised the British government for keeping Pakistan on the red list. These MPs have accused British government of ‘blatant discrimination towards Pakistan’. The current travel policy for Pakistan is blatant discrimination and the recent increase in hotel quarantine cost from £ 1750 to £ 2285 is adding insult to the injury. 

Ms. Yasmin, who is chair of the All Parties Parliamentary Group (APPG) in the UK Parliament on Pakistan, posted on Twitter about the Government decision being “clear and blatant discrimination towards Pakistan”. She said: “I am dismayed at the Government’s decision to keep Pakistan on the travel red list whilst removing other countries in the Middle East and South Asia region. Pakistan has no variant of concern reported and cases remain relatively low when compared with India and the UK, yet it is punished unnecessarily. 

“These changes point to one thing and one thing only – Government politicking. The Government has opted to remove India now to best prepare them for trade negotiations and is not based on data nor science.”

She added: “These travel restrictions are wreaking havoc with people of Pakistani origin across the United Kingdom”. 

MP Naz Shah also issued a statement on Pakistan staying on the red list, accusing the Government of “callous behaviour” in dealing with the traffic light system. 

It has been demanded that all WHO-approved vaccinated people returning to the UK from red list countries must be allowed to quarantine at home. Alternatively, the Government MUST foot the hotel Quarantine bill of fully vaccinated people returning to the UK from Red List countries. 

In its response to the petition, UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said: “The Government has made it consistently clear it will take decisive action, if necessary, to contain the virus and Pakistan has been added to the red list to protect public health. The UK Government recognise the impact that the decision to place Pakistan on the red list will have on individuals. However, it is right that the Government does all it can to reduce the risk of new strains of Covid-19 being imported into the UK. The decision was taken to protect against new variants of Covid-19 at a critical time for the vaccine programme. The addition of Pakistan to the red list was based on data alongside a consideration of the recommendations of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC). With over 30 million vaccinations delivered in the UK so far, the additional restrictions will help to reduce the risk of new variants entering the country.”

Meanwhile Pakistan’s High Commissioner in the UK, Mr. Moazzam Ahmad Khan, says he raised his concerns directly with Prime Minister Boris Johnson when they met him at Sandhurst military academy. Pakistan’s top diplomat in the UK has said Boris Johnson assured him that the UK Government is “looking into” the prospect of removing the South Asian country from the travel red list.


The Pakistani diaspora totals around 1.1 million in the UK and the social media has been inundated with correspondence which details students unable to access their courses because of punitive and extortionate quarantine costs and children unable to see their often sick parents and grandparents.


British and Irish nationals and those who have residence rights in the UK can return from Pakistan, but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at a cost of more than £2,285.


UK High Court has ruled that Pakistan will remain on the Red List due to exceptional circumstances for an indefinite period. This ruling came despite the fact that the prosecution lawyers admitted before the court that their figures on genomic sequence for Covid cases in Pakistan were incorrect and not up-to-date. Lawyers supporting Pakistan will now challenge this decision in a Court of Appeal based on the fact that genomic sequence for Pakistan’s Covid cases recorded by the UK Government were exaggerated. Correct figures were presented before the UK High Court, which were ignored and a ruling was given in favour of Government’s decision to keep Pakistan on the Red List indefinitely.


Pakistan was kept on the red list in the latest travel review announced on 26th August 2021, while neighbouring India was moved back to the amber category earlier this month. This discrimination has sparked criticism of the travel system, with a number of MPs calling for an explanation from the UK government.



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