PM wants Nawaz brought back from UK at the earliest

Updated 30 Sep 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked relevant authorities with bringing back PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif from London at the earliest. — AFP/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked relevant authorities with bringing back PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif from London at the earliest. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday tasked relevant authorities with bringing back Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif from London, where he has been staying since November 2019 on medical grounds, at the earliest.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting where the prime minister also issued the directive to relevant authorities to pursue the matter vigorously, just a day before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) is expected to ask the government about measures it had taken to bring Nawaz Sharif back, a cabinet member told Dawn.

He said the government had already sent a request to the British government for the PML-N leader’s repatriation but it would now send a fresh application.

He said besides a normal application, a formal request for his extradition would also be made. “Although we have no extradition treaty with the United Kingdom, wanted people can be repatriated under special arrangements as we had also handed over some people to the UK,” the cabinet member said.

Fresh application for repatriation to be filed; committee formed to deal with protesting opposition

On Sept 15, the IHC had ordered that Nawaz Sharif be arrested and presented before the court.

In response to the court ruling, the PML-N had announced that it honoured the court decisions, but the supreme leader of the party would return once his health permitted him.

The IHC will resume proceedings from Wednesday to examine issuance of proclamation of Nawaz Sharif as the court is expected to ask about measures taken to bring him back.

On Nov 8, Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted in a corruption case, was allowed to travel abroad for his treatment while his daughter Maryam Nawaz had to stay behind “till further orders”.

While Prime Minister Imran Khan stuck to his stance for many months that no National Reconciliation Ordinance-like relief would be given to ex-PM Sharif, the former gave a go-ahead to his travel, raising many eyebrows.

Committee formed to deal with opposition

The prime minister also formed a committee of some cabinet members to deal with the opposition, which had announced a protest campaign against the government.

The cabinet meeting gave approval to a visa policy for Afghanistan following the visit of High Council for National Reconciliation Chairman Dr Abdullah Abdullah to Pakistan.

Besides, it permitted a one-time pre-shipment inspection of ships coming to Pakistan with stocks of wheat imported by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan.

Under a recent agreement between the UK and Pakistan on airline operations, the cabinet permitted Virgin Atlantic to operate between the two countries.

An inquiry report was presented before the cabinet regarding irregularities in the installation of telemetry system for ‘fair’ distribution of water under the Indus River System Authority (Irsa).

The meeting consented to the removal of Irsa members, as those from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan had completed their term, while Punjab was asked to reassess the capability of its member.

The cabinet also gave a go-ahead to audit of Irsa affairs and allowed amendments to be made to its laws.

Under the Pakistan Medical Commission Act 2020, recently passed by the parliament in a joint sitting, the cabinet approved the appointment of Dr Arshad Taqi and Ali Raza as president and vice president of the Medical and Dental Council, respectively.

Appointment of Syed Hussain Abdi as chairman of the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Islamabad, was also approved.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2020