Amid the country’s already tense political environment with the government and opposition defending their viewpoints, a new debate has erupted over the rumours of PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s possible return to Pakistan ahead of the next general elections.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, who is also Nawaz’s brother, categorically said that he will not return until he has fully recovered.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Shehbaz said that Nawaz might stay in the United Kingdom legally until the immigration tribunal rules on his appeal against the British Home Office’s rejection for extending his visa.
Reports suggest that the British Home Office has turned down Nawaz’s appeal for visa extension.
A news report quoted Shehbaz as saying that the incumbent government had allowed Nawaz to leave Pakistan for treatment on the basis of reports of its own medical board.
“It is inhuman to do politics on the health of a three-time premier. The government machinery is bent upon defaming Sharif for its politics, which is earning a bad name to the country,” he said.
Shehbaz said Nawaz Sharif will only return [to Pakistan] after full recovery and doctors in London allowed him to travel back home.
The appeal for visa extension was filed with the immigration tribunal on Thursday.
MARYAM NAWAZ: Meanwhile, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, in a tweet, said the visa issue had again proved how her father was on the nerves of the Khan government members.
“This fake government has accepted its defeat from Nawaz Sharif who is the present and future of Pakistan. By targeting a towering personality, the stature of a pygmy cannot be elevated,” she tweeted.
The request for an extension in the stay was filed with the UK home department on medical grounds on the advice of Nawaz Sharif’s doctors.
Talking to reporters, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said it was a routine procedure for anyone seeking extension in their stay in the UK and Nawaz Sharif had the right to an appeal in the immigration tribunal.
Nawaz Sharif’s health had deteriorated while being in the custody of NAB and the government, headed by Prime Minister Khan, insisted that medical reports and tribunals had said they could not treat his ailment in Pakistan.
“Even Imran Khan had verified all these facts after the inspection of doctors from his trusted Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital. The provincial and federal governments sent Nawaz Sharif abroad for treatment after fulfilling all legal requirements,” she said.
She asserted that Nawaz would not seek political asylum in the UK, as he could legally stay there until a decision on his appeal by the British immigration tribunal.
Legal experts say the coronavirus pandemic has caused a huge backlog of cases at the immigration tribunal and that Sharif’s case may take a year or more to get a verdict. Until such time, he is expected to stay in the UK.
The Islamabad High Court declared Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender in December 2019 after he failed to appear before it after his conviction in Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia Steel Mills cases.
FAWAD CHAUDHRY: Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said those waiting for a deal on Nawaz’s return to the country would remain political dwarfs.
In a tweet, the minister reacted to reports about a possible return of ex-PM Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and charged that the PML-N leadership is bending backwards to seek the establishment’s help for concessions for Nawaz but they are not being entertained.
He said “those in PML-N were standing with ‘boot polish’ but nobody was putting their boots forward.”
“You are a dark chapter in Pakistan’s history. Darkness vanishes when light spreads and same has happened in Pakistan,” he maintained.