Pakistan on Saturday questioned Britain’s decision to place Pakistan on the Covid-19 ‘red list’ of countries effective April 9. “Every country has a right to take decisions to safeguard the health of their citizens. However, the recent decision by the UK government to add some countries, including Pakistan, on the ‘red list’ raises a legitimate question whether the choice of countries is based on science or foreign policy,” Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said. A day earlier, the United Kingdom had said that the decision to add Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines to the list was based on advice from public health experts as well as scientific data. The minister shared a letter written by British MP Naz Shah to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dated March 30, prior to restrictions being announced. “I have a large Pakistani diaspora within my constituency which is why I am writing to simply ask, what scientific data is any decision being led by,” Naz Shah asked in the letter. She said that according to recent available data, France, Germany and India have substantially higher numbers of infections per 100,000. “It must also be noted that the South African variant isn’t a concern in Pakistan whereas this isn’t the case for example in France and other countries. This begs the question why hasn’t the government extended the red list to France, Germany, and India?” the British MP questioned. Shah concluded that the British government did not have a coherent strategy for dealing with the ‘red list’ and was applying decisions led by politics and not data. “Contrary to what the government is saying, it is clearly not making decisions fed by science/data. Further, it is knowingly and consciously discriminating against Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora community,” she said. Under the new restrictions that will come into force next week, passengers from Pakistan will be denied entry to the UK unless they are British or Irish nationals or have residency rights. The cost for one adult in a government-approved hotel room for 10 days is £1,750, which does not include the mandatory £210 each passenger has to pay for testing in this period. A negative PCR test in this time does not shorten the duration of the quarantine. British High Commissioner In Islamabad Christian Turner in a video message said, “I know how unwelcome this news will be for all of you and for so many of the British Pakistani community that is the bedrock of our strong relationship.” After Pakistan’s inclusion into UK’s red list, visitors who had come back to their home country are now worried about getting back to the UK. The Pakistan International Airlines has decided to facilitate such people and has announced it is running four additional two-way flights between Islamabad and Manchester. These flights, which will operate between April 6 and 7, will see 1,400 passengers transported. This will allow people, who had come over to Pakistan on extended Good Friday and Easter holidays, to return to the UK before the deadline. Reports said that fares as high as Rs 400,000 are being charged for the flights.