Govt to lobby UK for Nawaz’s deportation

Published March 2, 2020
While the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to seek deportation of former prime minister from London, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N says Nawaz Sharif will move the Lahore High Court against the Punjab government’s refusal to grant him extension in his stay abroad for treatment. — AFP/File
While the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to seek deportation of former prime minister from London, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N says Nawaz Sharif will move the Lahore High Court against the Punjab government’s refusal to grant him extension in his stay abroad for treatment. — AFP/File

LAHORE / SIALKOT: While the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to seek deportation of former prime minister from London, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N says Nawaz Sharif will move the Lahore High Court against the Punjab government’s refusal to grant him extension in his stay abroad for treatment.

“Government departments concerned will start the process of writing a letter to the United Kingdom from the coming week,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told journalists in Sialkot on Sunday.

When contacted, Punjab PML-N’s information secretary and MPA Azma Bokhari told Dawn, “we have received the written order of the PTI’s Punjab government regarding its refusal to grant extension in the stay of Nawaz Sharif abroad on flimsy grounds. The PML-N supremo will challenge the Buzdar administration’s decision in the LHC this week.”

Casting doubts on the illness of the former prime minister, Ms Awan said neither he underwent any heart surgery nor was admitted to hospital for any emergency during the last three months. “It is time to bring back the VIP prisoner who is having a lavish stay abroad.”

Ex-PM to move court for bail extension

While PTI ministers and leaders have been expressing their lack of trust over the official process to allow Mr Sharif to go to the UK — some doubting the authenticity of medical reports of the Punjab government’s doctors, others blaming courts for a ‘lenient view’ and a few others holding their government responsible — Ms Awan identified a new ‘culprit’.

“A section of media ran a campaign to influence opinion (of decision-makers) and build an impression that Nawaz was critically ill. It was rather a fixed match,” she said.

Rejecting the ‘fixed-match’ claim, Punjab Health Minister Yasmeen Rashid, who herself is a senior doctor, told newsmen in Lahore on Sunday that Nawaz Sharif’s medical reports were authentic and not issued under any influence.

Azma Bokhari said that PTI was the party that had introduced a culture of doing politics on the politicians’ health.

“All medical reports of Nawaz Sharif have been submitted to the Punjab government but it refused to give extension in his stay abroad only to please Imran Khan,” she said, adding that earlier the court had given relief to Nawaz Sharif and not the government.

Last week, the Punjab government had refused to extend bail to Mr Sharif declaring that it had found no “legal, moral or medical ground” necessitating an extension.

The LHC had granted Nawaz Sharif bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case in which he was a suspect.

Later, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) accepted his bail plea in the Al Azizia Mills reference in which he was serving a seven-year jail term, clearing his way to travel abroad for medical treatment. The IHC had, however, asked him to first approach the Punjab government if he needed more time (after eight weeks) to complete his treatment. Mr Sharif had left for London on Nov 19.

The IHC granted eight-week bail to the former premier on Oct 29, 2019 — a period of time that expired on Dec 25. The former premier applied for the extension in his bail on Dec 23 along with some medical reports.

The Punjab government formed a four-member committee to look into the merits of the application. It rejected the medical reports submitted with the application and asked for more specific and latest evidence.

As Ms Awan declared that the government would write to the British government for bringing back Mr Sharif, the PML-N leader said it too would write to the US government to open a `pending case’ against Imran Khan. “We ask the PTI to refrain from such things otherwise we will also play this letter game,” Ms Bokhari warned.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2020

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