The Pakistani federal government has issued a request to the United Kingdom government to send former prime minister and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif back to Pakistan to serve his prison sentence. This is the third request of its kind made by Pakistan, and was communicated this time via a letter given to the British High Commissioner in Islamabad.
Nawaz Sharif has been in London since November 2019 on a visit visa for attaining medical treatment. The letter urges the British authorities to revoke the visa and deport the convicted politician back to his home country. The Pakistan government, in the letter, refers to Britain’s immigrations laws of 1947 that state that persons sentenced for imprisonment of more than four years must be deported to their country of origin to serve their sentence. This condition applies to Nawaz Sharif, who was sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of corruption following the Panama Papers case. He was granted permission by the Lahore High Court to travel to the UK on medical grounds on the condition of returning within four weeks, or whenever he was declared healthy by doctors.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar confirmed the news of the recent request to local media, and stated that the last such request had been made on 5th October after the cancellation of Sharif’s bail by the Islamabad High Court. “The ball in now in the court of the British government,” he added.
The contents of the letter, as per APP news agency, were partially revealed by the Financial Times newspaper. According to the report, the letter was addressed from Shahzad Akbar to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. In the letter, it was emphasised that the UK is “duty-bound” to deport the convicted politician. “I trust that you will be supportive of our efforts to bring those responsible for corruption to account,” the letter stated, as per the report.
Efforts to bring the former prime minister back to Pakistan have been amplified since Nawaz Sharif, following the formation of the 11-party opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has given multiple speeches against the current PTI government.
“We will make increased efforts to bring you back to Pakistan,” Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed Nawaz Sharif during his speech at the Tiger Force convention this month. “And I will ensure that you are put into a common jail, and not a VIP one,” he promised.