‘Thank god’: British-Pakistanis excited to return to families after UK lifts travel restrictions

People queue to enter terminal 2, as tighter rules for international travellers start, at Heathrow Airport, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease, in London, Britain, on January 18, 2021. (REUTERS)
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Updated 18 September 2021

‘Thank god’: British-Pakistanis excited to return to families after UK lifts travel restrictions

  • One-way fare from Islamabad to London can currently cost up to £2,165, though the flights are still overbooked
  • A stranded IT professional from London says UK authorities should have ‘thought of us as British, not just Pakistanis’ to avoid playing politics on the issue

ISLAMABAD: A British-Pakistani, who arrived in Islamabad in July to see his ailing mother but could not return to London due to the UK government’s travel restriction on Pakistan, said on Saturday he anxiously wanted to hold his daughter once again.
Imran Niazi had to leave his wife and daughter behind in Britain while traveling to Islamabad but found himself stranded here due to the UK government’s “red list” requirements which expected him to undergo a costly 10-day hotel quarantine amid rising coronavirus concerns.
UK officials decided to place Pakistan on its red list in April due to a surge in COVID-19 delta variant cases in the country and added the South Asian state to its safe list on Friday.
“I am anxiously waiting to hug my 12-year-old daughter,” Niazi told Arab News. “This was a stressful time, and thank God, the UK has eased its travel restrictions.”
He said that much of his time in Islamabad was spent making video calls to his family.
“Hopefully, I will be joining them in about two weeks,” he continued.
Almost all airlines including British Airways, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic have resumed their operations from Pakistan, but they are either fully booked or their fares have gone extremely high due to the growing travel demand to the UK.
The one-way fare from Islamabad to London can currently cost between £1,800 to £2,165, though it used to be around £300 before the UK travel restrictions.
“I’ll obviously wait for at least two weeks to book my flight as this fare is too high for me to afford,” Niazi said, adding his real estate and security services business in London had already been “badly affected” due to the pandemic.
All those traveling to the UK from Pakistan need to be fully vaccinated with Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna, otherwise they will require a booster shot of any of these vaccines before taking a flight.
Mirza Khalil Ullah, who runs a property business in Mill Hill, London, came to see his relatives in Karachi in February but got stuck in the country.
“We British-Pakistanis have got this relief after a very hard time,” he said. “I would request all Pakistanis that they should not do anything that can put us in trouble again or tarnish Pakistan’s image.”
He said he had taken the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and was planning to get a Pfizer shot before booking his flight.
Another IT professional from London, Amir Faisal Awan, was also stranded in Pakistan for the last five months due to the travel restrictions.
“It has been a horrible experience,” he said while adding that his father was suffering from dementia and could not stay in confined places.
“The British government should have thought [of] us as British and not just Pakistanis,” he complained. “They should have facilitated us instead of involving us in their political issues. I am really excited now and just want to be back with my family. It was a very bad feeling that I had my passport and ticket but could not fly back to them.”
Rafiq Saya, a businessman based in Ireland, came to Karachi to negotiate a deal but got stuck here for months.
“It has affected my business in Ireland and kept me away from my family,” he said, while welcoming the UK government’s decision to remove Pakistan from the travel red list.
“It is a great thing for everybody since we can now go back to work and be with our families again,” Saya added.


JS Bank & Home Matters collaborate to provide housing finance to UAE-based Pakistanis 

Updated 10 sec ago

JS Bank & Home Matters collaborate to provide housing finance to UAE-based Pakistanis 

  • JS Bank is among fastest-growing banks in Pakistan with both domestic and international presence
  • Home Matters consultants are market leaders in mortgage and property transaction consultation in UAE

KARACHI: JS Bank has partnered with Home Matters, one of the UAE’s top mortgage brokers, to provide easy and convenient home financing solutions to Non-Resident Pakistanis (NRPs) at flexible markup rates, a press release said on Wednesday.
Home Matters will provide an end-to-end mortgage brokerage service exclusively for JS Bank.
The agreement was signed on Wednesday by Fahad Siddiqui, Head of Secured Lending JS Bank, and Sawan Karia, Managing Director, Home Matters Mortgage Consultants.
Speaking at the occasion, Fahad Siddiqui, said, “As the largest conventional home loan providing bank in Pakistan, JS Bank is proud to partner with an industry leader like Home Matters to service our valued customers living abroad. This strategic partnership will serve as an end-to-end solution for NRP clients living in the UAE for both searching for the right property and selecting the right financing solutions in Pakistan.”
Sawan Karia said, “This exclusive partnership represents a historic milestone, enabling Home Matters to remotely service Non-resident Pakistani clients for a property purchase in Pakistan through a mortgage with JS Bank. As a pioneer in its field, JS Bank is the first to offer mortgages to NRPs living in the UAE. Pakistanis represent the second-largest ex-pat population, and It is a privilege for Home Matters to be servicing their mortgage needs.”
JS Bank has taken this step to make housing finance in Pakistan more accessible to NRPs through innovative product solutions, enabling homeownership to become an achievable reality, the bank said.
JS Bank is among the fastest-growing Bbanks in Pakistan, with both domestic and an international presence.
Home Matters consultants are market leaders in providing independent mortgage and property transaction consultation in United Arab Emirates.


Pakistan records lowest single day rise in coronavirus cases in a year

Updated 5 min 50 sec ago

Pakistan records lowest single day rise in coronavirus cases in a year

  • 618 new infections recorded on October 19 last year, on October 20 this year 554 new cases reported
  • The government has administered a total of at least 93,551,193 doses of COVID vaccines so far

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reported 554 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the lowest number of COVID-19 cases recorded in a single day since October last year, health ministry data showed on Wednesday.
The South Asian country has reported 1,266,204 total infections and 28,312 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. The government has administered a total of at least 93,551,193 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 21.6 percent of the country’s population.
Pakistan’s pandemic response body, the NCOC, announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the country had recorded 554 daily infections in the last 24 hours. This is the lowest since October 19, 2020, when 618 cases were reported.


More than 1.2 million people have so far recovered from the coronavirus in Pakistan, while 1,783 people remain in critical care in hospitals across the country.


Deputy ruler of Dubai visits Pakistan pavilion at Expo 2020 

Updated 17 min 9 sec ago

Deputy ruler of Dubai visits Pakistan pavilion at Expo 2020 

  • Exhibitors from 200 countries are participating in Expo with aim to boost trade and investment
  • The Pakistan pavilion was officially inaugurated by President Arif Alvi on October 9

ISLAMABAD: Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, this week toured the Pakistan pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates News Agency (WAM) said.
The Expo is the first world fair to be held in the Middle East, and Dubai, the region’s tourism, trade and business hub, is hoping to boost its economy by attracting 25 million business and tourist visits to the exhibition, which has been built from scratch on 4.3 sq km (1.7 sq mile) of desert at a cost of around $6.8 billion.
Exhibitors from almost 200 countries, including Pakistan, are participating, with many countries and companies looking to the expo — the first major global event open to visitors since the coronavirus pandemic — to boost trade and investment.
The Pakistan pavilion was officially inaugurated by President Dr. Arif Alvi on October 9. Last week, the commerce ministry said over 55,000 people had visited the site only in its first week since launching.
“Sheikh Maktoum also visited the Pakistan Pavilion located at the Opportunity District, which showcases the country’s diverse environmental beauty,” WAM reported.
“The pavilion offers a one-of-a-kind tour of the nation’s towering ‘peaks of progress’ in sustainability, sports, technology and much more. With a history spanning 7,000 years, ever-evolving with art, culture and diversity, Pakistan is one of the world’s best-kept secrets.
“During the tour, H.H. was briefed on the main highlights in Pakistan’s journey toward the future through the pavilion’s huge interactive screens.”
Built from scratch on 4.3 square km of desert, the Expo is divided into three sub-theme districts: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability.
The Pakistani pavilion, themed “The Hidden Treasure,” is located in the Opportunity area.


Pakistani finance chief joins talks on bailout loan in Washington as IMF cites ‘progress’ 

Updated 26 min 45 sec ago

Pakistani finance chief joins talks on bailout loan in Washington as IMF cites ‘progress’ 

  • Pakistani and IMF are currently engaged in talks for the release of $1 billion tranche of $6 billion loan
  • In June, similar talks between the two sides failed to bring agreement on conditions for the tranche

ISLAMABAD: IMF Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department, Jihad Azour, has said there was ‘progress’ in talks between officials from the IMF and Pakistan for the release of the latest tranche in a bailout package.
The comments come as Pakistani media reported this and last week that ongoing talks for the release of a $1 billion tranche of a three-year, $6 billion bailout package accord reached in 2019 had failed.
Five reviews of the program had been completed by March. The sixth is pending since June this year, which, if completed, will enable Pakistan to receive around $1 billion from the fund.
On Tuesday, the finance ministry said Pakistan’s finance chief Shaukat Tarin had returned to Washington to join the ongoing discussions.


“The IMF mission to Pakistan and authorities are currently in the process of discussion around the sixth review of the program and the discussions are progressing around the various pillars of the program and the measures that the government of Pakistan is currently contemplating,” Azour said as he unveiled the IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook.
“The progress has gone in a very good step and the mission with the authorities is going through various details.”


The government’s finance ministry this week dismissed reports by local media over the weekend that talks were inconclusive.
“Negotiations between Pakistan and IMF are moving forward positively. No timeframe was set at any stage for the conclusion of the talks,” a statement issued by the finance ministry said.
In June, a similar round of talks between the two sides failed to bring agreement on conditions for the tranche.

 

 


Pakistani physician elected to National Academy of Medicine, one of highest honors in medicine 

Updated 20 October 2021

Pakistani physician elected to National Academy of Medicine, one of highest honors in medicine 

  • Dr. Anita Zaidi is president for gender equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • She was elected “for global leadership in paediatric infectious disease research and capacity development“

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani physician Dr. Anita Zaidi was elected this week to the National Academy of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.
Founded in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is one of three academies that make up the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) in the United States. Operating under the 1863 Congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that work outside of government to provide objective advice on matters of science, technology, and health.
The Academy said Zaidi, president for gender equality and director of vaccine development and surveillance and of enteric and diarrheal diseases at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was elected “for global leadership in paediatric infectious disease research and capacity development relevant to improving newborn and child survival in developing countries.”
Since joining the foundation in 2014, Zaidi has led a team focused on vaccine development for people in the poorest parts of the world, surveillance to identify and address causes of death in children in the most under-served areas, and significantly reducing the adverse consequences of diarrheal and enteric infections on children’s health in low and middle-income countries, according to the Gates Foundation website.
“Through this role, Anita champions innovative work on behalf of low-income women and children, including the creation of the Women Leaders in Global Health program— now called WomenLift Health— to promote diversity in global health leadership. She also works closely with the foundation’s Maternal Newborn Child Health Discovery & Tools program,” it said.
Previously, Anita was the department chair of Pediatrics and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, where she worked to reduce child mortality through the prevention and treatment of illness.
She obtained her medical degree specializing in pediatric infectious diseases at Aga Khan University, and completed further training at Duke University, Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. To date, Anita has published more than 200 research papers on vaccine-preventable diseases and newborn infections in resource-limited settings.
In 2013, Anita became the first recipient of the $1 million Caplow Children’s Prize for her pioneering work bringing health services and wraparound care to mothers and children in poverty-stricken communities in Karachi. She was also nominated as a notable physician of the year in 2014 by Medscape.
“It is my privilege to welcome this extraordinary class of new members. Their contributions to health and medicine are unmatched – they’ve made groundbreaking discoveries, taken bold action against social inequities, and led the response to some of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau.
“This is also the NAM’s most diverse class of new members to date, composed of approximately 50 percent women and 50 percent racial and ethnic minorities. This class represents many identities and experiences – all of which are absolutely necessary to address the existential threats facing humanity. I look forward to working with all of our new members in the years ahead.”
The newly elected members bring NAM’s total membership to more than 2,200 and the number of international members to approximately 172.