LONDON: Ninety British parliamentarians have urged the British government to ensure immediate steps to repatriate around 6,000 stranded Britons in Pakistan.
Labour MP Afzal Khan has written to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab requesting the urgent repatriation of British nationals in Pakistan. The letter has been signed by 90 members of Parliament who include Naz Shah MP for Bradford West, Imran Hussain MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Claudia Webbe MP, Sam Tarry MP, Mohammad Yasin MP, former shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP, Lord Nazir Ahmed and many others.
Afzal Khan, who is Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and Member of Parliament from Gorton in Manchester, and is also a part of Labour’s shadow cabinet, said that there were over 6,000 British nationals who were looking for urgent repatriation but the special flights announced by the governments of Pakistan and the UK were not enough to bring all of them back.
Speaking to The News, Afzal Khan said he understood that the British government has launched chartered flights for several countries, including several flights from India, to bring back British citizens. He questioned why the government has not done the same for Pakistan where at one point more than 10,000 Britons were stranded.
MP Naz Shah has also taken up the issue of stranded Britons in Pakistan and has also held a live telephone call with Pakistan’s Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, Zulfiqar Bukhari.
Due to collective efforts of Pakistani origin parliamentarians, the government of Pakistan had announced a price cap of £750 per flight each way but it has been reported that many flights had charged much more than that. A great number of flights did not operate despite the tickets being sold.
Many stranded Britons are facing immense financial difficulties due to cancelled flights. A sizeable number of stranded Britons are short term visitors whose livelihoods have been impacted due to the unavailability of flights.
While MP Afzal Khan appreciated the commencement of loans by the UK government for stranded Britons, he said: “The availability of loans is, of course, welcome, however for many of our constituents, this does not go far enough. Short term loans to cover the immediate costs of returning home are helpful but in the long term, these nationals will still have to pay for the chaotic mismanagement of PIA and the British repatriation effort.
“Is the government considering any other forms of financial aid or other help to alleviate the economic difficulties nationals now find themselves in?”
A spokesman for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said that it was dealing with the unusual situations and doing everything to bring British Pakistanis stranded in Pakistan.