LONDON (Azhar Javaid/Dunya News) - A delegation of the UK Pakistan Business Council (UKPBC) visited 10 Downing Street through an appointment to submit a protest letter, expressing fury on behalf of Pakistanis and the UKPBC and other cross-party community groups.
The letter was drafted after holding a press conference against the decision to keep Pakistan on the travel ban red list while removing India from the same list despite having a higher number of COVID-19 cases there.
The UKPBC s letter said: “The last decision by the UK Government indicates the fact the Conservative Party has a clear bias based upon political affiliations and the strength of its own internal lobby rather than the well-being of the public."
The delegation informed 10 Downing Street that Pakistanis in the UK and elsewhere have expressed "serious concerns about the decline in business transactions and the revenue due to the restrictions on the movement of people between the two countries."
The letter, addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, further said: "It is reported as fact that orders are being cancelled due to the inability of buyers and sellers to travel to the UK and vice versa under the current travel restrictions. In addition, the logistical costs have inevitably increased by up to 20%, which is causing the importers on both sides to delay the orders.
"Prime Minister! With due respect, the business community fails to understand the criteria which have been applied in classifying Pakistan into the red list category and keeping it there, whilst the data available apparently does not qualify the action. The most recent decision by your government has stunned all fair-minded politicians, the business community and the Pakistani Diaspora in the UK as to what exactly is the criteria behind travel restrictions applied by the government."
"Looking at the statistical facts and the data available, it is quite evident that the decision to move India into the amber list, while keeping Pakistan in the red list is clearly political rather than any intention to protect the British public from the coronavirus infection."
The letter quoted a John Hopkins global tracker as reporting that India has 31.8 million COVID-19 cases with over 426,000 Indian deaths.
"India has merely around 7% of the 1.3 billion population who have been vaccinated. India has reported the second-highest average of new infections in the world. Furthermore, India is reporting 20 new infections per 100,000 people as compared to 14 per 100,000 in Pakistan, yet your government takes a decision which defies all facts, data, and common sense."
The letter further informed the PM that COVID-19 infection rates over the period of last four months in Europe and the USA have comparatively been much higher than that of Pakistan and the trend is quite clear and consistent.
"Yet all of the European countries, as well as the USA, are in the amber let whilst Pakistan — with its much lower infection and death rates than most of the other amber countries — remains in the red list, causing a detrimental effect on the bilateral trade and the survival of business on both sides."
The letter told 10 Downing Street that entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and supplies at both ends are desperate for the current travel restrictions to be relaxed in order to bring some normality into the business activity between the two countries.