Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Wednesday announced that PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's passport will be cancelled on February 16.
Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, he said the opposition had been "exposed" as money launderers and people who obtained iqamas (work permit) because they were not honest with the country.
"Why did all these people use to take iqamas? If I as the interior minister obtain an iqama, it means there is something fishy and I don't have faith in my land," he said.
The minister said all the "thieves" got united when their wealth obtained through money laundering and corruption was exposed and claimed that they were being victimised.
Asked by a reporter "who is next" after PML-N senior leader Khawaja Asif's arrest on Tuesday, Rashid said it wasn't yet known but added: "[We] will cancel Nawaz Sharif's passport on February 16." He did not provide any details.
Nawaz has been living in London since November last year after he was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment.
Earlier this month, the PML-N leader was declared a proclaimed offender in two cases — Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia — by the Islamabad High Court after he failed to appear before the court.
The same day, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar said that United Kingdom authorities had been asked to deport the convicted former prime minister from their country.
He said Pakistan had written a letter to the UK to cancel the visa of Nawaz which was issued for medical treatment after taking an undertaking.
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A highly placed source in the UK had told Dawn last month that a top Pakistani official met his British counterpart in October to convey that Nawaz is “no longer a soft issue” between the UK and Pakistan and failure to deport him could result in strained ties between the countries.
Prime Minister Imran Khan in October said he would contact British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, if needed, to discuss his deportation and his adviser Akbar wrote a letter to British Home Secretary Priti Patel on October 5 urging her to deport the former premier whom he said is “responsible for pillaging the state”.
In Nawaz’s case, the government of Pakistan is hoping to persuade UK authorities to bring about a “forced removal”, sometimes called “administrative removal” — a scenario in which the Home Office enforces an individual’s removal from the UK if they don’t have leave to remain i.e. if their application has been declined or if their leave to remain has expired, Dawn reported.
While the Nawaz case is exceptional in that it involves a major political personality, it has come to the UK Home Office at a time when it is under fire at home for being a haven for foreign nationals accused of corruption.
Journalists and rights groups in the last few years have criticised the policies of the British government, which they say have made the UK “a safe haven for corrupt wealth”. Transparency International had called for the British government to launch an investigation into Nawaz’s London properties in 2018 when he was convicted in the Avenfield case and subsequently sentenced for 10 years.