Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Pakistani Embarrassment

The UK Border Agency has made a major faux pas in banning 60 Pakistani's from a trade and cultural visit from Lahore to its twin city Glasgow.

The rejected visas of the 60 covered two groups a delegation of the District Government their failure to arrive meant that trades talks with local officials in Glasgow were called off, as only the deputy mayor was allowed a UK visa. All the delegation had been invited by Glasgow City Council.

The cultural element was the return of the Patiala Pipe Band, who for the last four years have added colour to the World Pipe Band championships. They were not able to perform in the preliminary competition yesterday following their refusal to travel.

Hanzala Malik, executive member for Glasgow City Council's international affairs group said:

"These business-people are phenomenally important to us when it comes to trade. For them to be refused entry after we invited them is hugely embarrassing

"We need to be trading with people to safeguard our businesses and we can't do that if our Foreign Office is saying it's unsafe to go to certain parts of the world and refusing people entry here."

Anne McLaughlin MSP pointed out that the band had encountered difficulties last year to attend the same event, but were eventually given visas, but said:

"For this to happen once was bad enough; to repeat it this year is a disgrace. I will be in touch with the Borders Agency to get this decision reversed.

"This kind of decision gives Scotland a bad name and shows up the shambles within the UK Border Agency."

The UK Border Agency is there to do a job of security but their failure to identify genuine people with important business, or of cultural significance right to a stay in our country is ridiculous. Having worked for a charity with international volunteers in the past I have stood behind passport control having whizzed through the UK gate anxiously as the letters of commendation have been viewed by passport officials.

The UK Border agency are staying tight lipped saying that:

"All applications for entry clearance are considered on their individual merits, taking into account all evidence submitted and in accordance with the
immigration rules."

So clearly if top local government officials, who one would expect had the necessary documentation, nous and ability to fill in immigration documentation cannot do so one wonders just what difficulty individuals without such assistance have.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely fair comment, Stephen. Clearly something has gone badly wrong.

A separate aspect which you haven't mentioned is the disgraceful way in which the SNP’s Mike Russell sought to portray the issue in nationalistic terms as some kind of snub by big bad London (which we’re supposed to imagine to have an immoral attitude towards immigration, and ‘foreigners’ in general) against wee helpless (and entirely virtuous, politically correct) Scotland.

In so doing, he undermines his own subtext: that ‘we’ in a Utopian Socialist Scottish Republic would naturally (because, you see, ‘we’ are just nicer than ‘them’) adopt a less stringent, more welcoming attitude towards those originating outside ‘our’ borders.

Caron said...

This is appalling, but, unfortunately not surprising. For all the tabloid hype suggesting anyone can get into the country it's actually really difficult. I've heard of cases where it's been impossible to get people in to see dying relatives or where mothers have been separated from their breastfeeding infants, which is against Home Office policy, but they did it anyway.

It doesn't seem to matter what evidence you submit, the decisions made can be alarmingly random. And I understand we're also outsourcing a lot of the process and subsequent appeals so that the Borders Agency doesn't have that much control over what's going on

Zeynep said...

Gosh Mr SU, some of us are delighted that the Scottish Government adopts such an inclusive and liberal approach to immigration compared with the UK Gov (who have very different issues to deal with) - stop being so darn twisted, they're doing their job!


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