Pakistani pipe band refused entry to UK
MORE than 60 Pakistanis, including a trade delegation and members of a pipe band, have been banned from travelling to Scotland, it emerged today.
Business talks in Glasgow had to be abandoned after the visitors from the district government in Lahore, which is twinned with the city, had their visa applications rejected, a councillor said.
Hanzala Malik said members of the local pipe band – due to perform at the World Pipe Band Championships on Saturday – were also refused entry.
Mr Malik, Glasgow City Council's executive member for international affairs, accused immigration authorities of hampering business and embarrassing the council.
He 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've advised the authorities of their names, their passport numbers and done everything we could, so for them still to be refused – I am pulling my hair out.
"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."
Mr Malik said around 65 people from the three groups had their applications refused.
He said the situation was "ludicrous" because many of them had visited Glasgow before.
Trade talks were due to take place on August 2 and a visit by government officials scheduled for last month also had to be abandoned.
The deputy mayor of Lahore was the only member of the delegation to be allowed entry.
Thousands of pipers and drummers have travelled from across the globe to attend the annual World Pipe Band Championships.
The competition at Glasgow Green is said to be worth an estimated 7 million to the city economy.
SNP MSP for Glasgow Anne McLaughlin called on the UK Government and Border Agency to reverse their decision.
Ms McLaughlin said the pipe band encountered similar problems last year.
"For this to happen once was bad enough, to repeat it this year is a disgrace," she said.
"I will be in touch with the Borders Agency to get this decision reversed.
"The Pipe Band are international ambassadors and Glasgow's Pipe Band Championships is an international celebration.
"This kind of decision gives Scotland a bad name and shows up the shambles within the UK Border Agency."
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "All applications for entry clearance are considered on their individual merits, taking into account all evidence submitted and in accordance with the immigration rules.
"The onus is on visa applicants to supply the necessary evidence in support of their applications.
"Where insufficient evidence is provided visa applications may be refused, though the individual is able to apply again at any time and any new evidence will be considered."
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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