Covid and Pakistan

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
10 November 2020

Many of our clients are elderly Pakistani nationals who are in the UK and wish to make an application to the Home Office because of their inability to return to Pakistan in terms of Covid, or wish to join family members in the UK.  We are often asked to advise as to whether or not an application under the Adult Dependent Relative or application outside the rules in country can be successful, given the Covid crisis and the current state of affairs in Pakistan.  

Having advised many in this position we know that Pakistan has not established a functional infrastructure that deals with the elderly who live alone in Pakistan.  The Pakistani state, does not provide a generic age-based scheme to assist senior citizens and in general Pakistan is not a welfare state, so elderly care and welfare is not considered a state duty. This is because in Pakistan according to Pakistani tradition and culture, it is the family unit that is the primary source of welfare for their elderly members.  Therefore, it is difficult for elderly Pakistanis to live alone due to the cultural constraints. 

With regard to care homes there is ongoing social stigma associated with them.  The predominant social view remains that children should care for their elderly relatives and in particular their parents and therefore there is no tradition of elderly care homes. 

The medical system in Pakistan is divided into two, private and public, and the majority of private hospitals and private clinics can be found in urban areas. The public health sector is extremely under-funded and as a result, according to the World Health Organisation, the Pakistani healthcare system is lacking broad healthcare delivery, especially in rural areas in Pakistan.

In our applications, we try to explain to the Home Office the social and cultural constraints that individuals face in Pakistan and ask the Home Office to have consideration into the family structure in the UK, be to be able to determine the plausibility of finding care without family support.  

Finally, with regard to Covid-19, according to the UK Foreign Office, local medical facilities are not comparable to those in the UK and the healthcare system has come under significant further strain as the number of Covid cases have increased.  It is known that the pandemic in Pakistan has placed considerable strain on the Pakistani healthcare system and those vulnerable individuals we represent will struggle even more to receive suitable healthcare treatments whilst the pandemic is active in Pakistan.