ISLAMABAD: The government has decided not to renew the passport of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif, who is currently living in self-exile in London. However, the interior ministry has offered him special documents to enable his return to Pakistan.

This is the crux of a letter written by the interior ministry to the ministry of foreign affairs in response to the query made by the latter on Feb 19 regarding the request for issuance of a new diplomatic passport by the former prime minister.

The letter written by the interior ministry on March 17, which is available with Dawn, has turned down the request and stated that Mr Sharif’s passport may not be renewed by the relevant authorities.

The letter says that to return to Pakistan, Mr Sharif may apply for Emergency Travel Document (ETD) from the Pakistan High Commission in London and “the same may be issued once he produces prior bookings of travel to Pakistan through PIA only.”

It says that issuance of passport was not a fundamental right of any citizen. “It being a property of federal government may only be issued once the applicant satisfies the relevant authorities regarding the bona fide of the application - A citizen’s right to travel abroad extinguishes once declared a fugitive of law.”

The letter by the interior ministry has been forwarded to Mohammad Ayub, Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner in London, by the director (Europe-1) of the foreign affairs ministry.

The letter says that Mr Sharif’s application for renewal of his passport was misconceived because he has been declared a proclaimed offender by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a criminal appeal titled “Mian Nawaz Vs NAB”, in Toshakhana reference by the Accountability Court of Islamabad and in the reference involving Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman by the Accountability Court of Lahore.

Under the circumstances, the letter says, Mr Sharif was required to return to Pakistan and appear before the courts to face charges.

“He being a fugitive of law and absconder cannot seek any further relief unless he surrenders before the courts in Pakistan,” the letter says.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2021

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