Shehbaz returns after 4 months, urges citizens to practice social distancing
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif returned to Pakistan on Sunday morning after remaining in the United Kingdom for over four months.
Speaking to the media while wearing a face mask on his arrival in Pakistan, Shehbaz said: "I was in London to be with my brother [former prime minister Nawaz Sharif] for his medical treatment.
"The doctor that was supposed to treat my brother was on holiday, but he has now returned and will give an appointment for my brother's heart procedure soon.
"The country is going through a tough time at the moment. That is why my brother and I decided it would be best for me to return before all international flights were banned. We will fight this [virus] together," he said.
Announcing his return to the country on Twitter, Shehbaz urged citizens to practice social distancing and to self-isolate if possible.
"Just landed in Islamabad — maintain a distance from one another and try to stay at your homes so that none of us are forced to part with our loved ones due to this virus. Love you all!"
On Saturday, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb had said in a statement that Shehbaz, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, had decided to return to the country "in view of the situation of the spread of coronavirus".
The PML-N president had left for London in November last year along with PML-N supremo and his older brother Nawaz Sharif, who was allowed to travel abroad by the government and courts to seek medical treatment.
Aurangzeb had said although Nawaz was scheduled to undergo surgery next week, Shehbaz had "decided that his presence among the [Pakistani] people was more important".
She had said the PML-N president is returning to "play his role in saving the nation from coronavirus" in the country and other efforts.
Shehbaz's decision to return to the country comes as the government on Saturday announced the suspension of all incoming international flights to Pakistan for two weeks. However, it was announced that PIA would be allowed to bring back its airplanes along with booked passengers.
In a video message before his departure, Shehbaz had said coronavirus has "wreaked havoc" in Pakistan and around the world.
He had said he was staying in London for Nawaz's scheduled heart intervention but upon hearing about the government's decision to suspend international flights, he had sought his elder brother's opinion.
Shehbaz had said he decided to return after Nawaz advised him to do so. "Being a Pakistani, leader of the opposition and a political figure, it is my duty to return to the country," he had said in the video message.