London: The British government is set to announce its new travel review of many countries including making a decision whether to move Pakistan to amber list, out of the travel ban Red List, or continue its categorization. According to the reliable sources familiar with Pakistan's lobbying with the British government, the chances of Pakistan coming out of the Red List are 'fifty, fifty'. However, Pakistan has asked the British government both on and off the record to remove Pakistan from the Red List as Pakistan meets the requirement.
Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to PM Boris Johnson and raised the issue of Red Listing which has caused issues to thousands of Pakistanis. Behind the scenes, several other players and factors are involved to get Pakistan off the Red List. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the UK officials have made a beeline to get visas for Pakistan and its understood that Pakistan has issued over 300 visas only in the last 10 days and hundreds more are eager to obtain visas.
A high-ranking British official visited Pakistan last week and a top official is set to visit Islamabad this week to meet Pakistani officials about the Afghanistan situation. Pakistan has already raised the issue during the facilitation of evacuation efforts that Pakistan is under pressure from its own communities for removal from the Red List. Pakistan has conveyed to the UK that as compared to the data that featured in UK's decision making last time, cases have fallen in all areas that are required. Positivity and fatality rates have gone down and genome sequencing, which feel short of the requirement last time, has improved massively.
It's understood that Pakistan authorities have lobbied the UK government hard in the last four weeks after uproar was caused following UK's decision to remove India from the Red List while keeping Pakistan on the ban list. Surprisingly, a UK source claimed that Pakistan didn't share Covid-19 pandemic data for the month of July and key information in other areas was missing too due to communication failure, but since the Pakistan government has worked towards ensuring that the data is sent to the UK on a regular basis.
Not only the Pakistan authorities have been sending the data directly but also Yasmin Qureshi MP, who is chair of All Pakistan Parliamentary Group on Pakistan, has been personally sending the data to the UK's relevant authorities and maintaining communications and facilitating exchanges.
The UK sources have said that they have been receiving the data from Pakistan on a regular basis in the last few weeks but the decision whether to keep Pakistan on the Red List or not will be made by the scientists at the Department of Health.
according to another source, who has seen the data said that statistics are lower in Pakistan but the UK health authorities here have to decide whether these statistics are enough to meet and pass the test. The final decision will be made either on 25th or 26th August.
A leading travel website has reported that Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey are now borderline candidates for removal from the Red List. The website stated that infection rates have started coming down rapidly and on the face of it there is a decent chance that Pakistan could turn amber.