Pakistan refused to allow the third Home Office deportation flight from the UK to enter. The Guardian reported that earlier two charter flights were also cancelled in October 2020.
This move comes after UK’s refusal to remove Pakistan from the covid red list. Pakistan has been on the red list since April 2021, as the UK government feared the prevalence of delta variant, which initially originated in India. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, said the red list ranking was “a sensitive issue and a difficult issue”.
Pakistan’s position on the travel list will be reviewed by September 15th, and Pakistan is expecting a positive result. Home Office data indicates that detained people costs go up to £100 a person every day.
The director of Detention Action, Bella Sankey, showed dismay against Indian origin MP Priti Patel, “Priti Patel’s expulsion flights are becoming unsustainable. Governments don’t want them, airlines are getting worried about operating them and the public is realising that they squander millions of pounds of our hard-earned cash ripping families apart and returning people to homelessness, mistreatment or worse. It’s time for charter flights to be ended.”
Pakistan has been lobbying to exclude itself from the UK travel red list. Several key British MPs have sent a joint letter to the Secretary of Health, highlighting Pakistan’s updated covid data. They have jointly appealed to take off Pakistan from the red list.
Had a session with some UK MP's regarding continuation of Pakistan on the red list. Shared data regarding covid disease surveillance and explained Pak strategy for covid response. Will engage with UK govt to try and ensure that red list decisions are based on science not politics pic.twitter.com/yn1qgHmMyW
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) August 7, 2021
Pakistan shared that the genome sequencing results show the delta variant to be dominant and account for up to 90 per cent of the cases. The same variant is present in the UK and other than that no other variant has been discovered in Pakistan.
While the UK has placed Pakistan on the travel list, Spain, Italy and Germany have not placed a travel ban on Pakistan. Germany has instead shared its concerns over India, from where the delta variant spread over.
The UK Government justified its red list inclusion of Pakistan on a scientific basis, asserting that Pakistan had also not shared updated data. Yet according to Pakistani top diplomat High Commissioner (HC) Moazzam Ahmad Khan, all current data was provided.