Pak Govt again asks UK to deport Nawaz Sharif

Speeds up process, writes to Priti Patel third time to send former ‘convicted’ prime minister by special flight that bringing deportees. Shahzad Akbar says cases of Altaf Hussain and Nawaz Sharif are different

Nation special report

LONDON: Pakistan government has speeded up the process to get former prime minister Nawaz Sharif back from London and has approached the British Government third time in this regard. The government has written a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel MP asking her to deport Nawaz Sharif and send back to Pakistan without any further delay.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar said in an interview that Pakistan is hopeful that Nawaz Sharif will be back in Pakistan soon to answer for the corruption charges against him.

He said that the government was working with the British authorities to finalise modalities for Nawaz’s return, while Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry hoped that the return would take place by Jan 15.

This time letter was handed over personally to the British High Commissioner in Islamabad. The letter was handed over to the British diplomat some three weeks after Mr Sharif made a fiery speech at the opposition’s multiparty conference (MPC) through video link from London in which he criticised the military establishment over its alleged role in politics.

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar showing NAB’s documents against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif during a recent press conference at PID Media Centre.

Through the letter, the Pakistan government has asked the British authorities to consider cancelling Mr Sharif’s visit visa, which has allowed him to live in London on medical grounds since November.

The letter has cited Britain’s own immigration laws of 1974 under which any person sentenced to imprisonment of more than four years had to be deported to the country of his/her origin.

The letter said Ms Patel “is duty-bound” to deport Mr Sharif, to serve his jail sentence for corruption. In the letter Mr Akbar wrote that the former prime minister was responsible for pillaging the state. “I trust that you will be supportive of our efforts to bring those responsible for corruption to account.” The letter to Ms Patel urged the British secretary to use her “extensive powers” to deport Mr Sharif, added the newspaper.

The previous letter, he said, had been dispatched after the cancellation of Mr Sharif’s bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) last month.

Speaking to a television news channel, he said decision-makers in the UK were holding discussions in this regard and an announcement was soon, as “the British government is losing its image by giving shelter to the looters and plunderers”.

“Nawaz Sharif is a convicted person and according to British laws, a convicted can not live there. As far as Altaf Hussain, founder of MQM is concerned, cases of Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain are different. Altaf Hussain is facing so many cases which would be ended into capital punishment whereas Nawaz Sharif has been convicted only for four years. The second fact is that Altaf Hussain has taken political asylum and according to my information, Ishaq Dar has also applied for political asylum.”

Shahzad Akbar said that we have asked UK Home Secretary that a special plane is about to bring deportees to Pakistan. This is good opportunity, send Nawaz Sharif by this special flight.  He said that Fawad Choudhary has given the date 15th January for Nawaz Sharif’s return but it will be his aim to bring him back even sooner.

He said that it was up to the UK government but quipped: “There is a flight of deportees coming back soon and we would want to save money and have him come on the same flight.”

The premier’s adviser said that the government had written to UK home secretary Priti Patel, as had also been reported by Financial Times, and she had been informed Britain was “duty-bound” to deport Nawaz, who had been in London for nearly a year since he was allowed to seek medical treatment there in November 2019.

Nawaz Sharif “has been responsible for pillaging the state and I trust that you will be supportive of our efforts to bring those responsible for corruption to account”, Akbar wrote to Patel on Oct 5.

The letter urged Patel to use her “extensive powers” to deport Nawaz, arguing she was “duty-bound” to do so. It cited immigration rules that criminals sentenced to four years or more must be refused leave to remain in the UK.

Akbar said what set Nawaz’s case apart from MQM founder Altaf Hussain — in London and wanted in cases of murder, targeted killings, treason, inciting violence and hate speeches — was that Hussain had been sentenced to death and the UK law prohibited the extradition of such individuals.

About the case of former finance minister Ishaq Dar — also in London and who had been declared an absconder by an accountability court on corruption charges — he said, “Ishaq Dar is not a convict, he is undergoing sentence […] we have a [Memorandum of Understanding] with the UK authorities and they will implement the decision through the court.”

He said in Nawaz’s case, deportation was sought, not extradition because Nawaz had already been convicted and he violated an agreement with the government. Akbar said the other two individuals had reportedly sought asylum, so that made the matter different on an additional count.

Earlier in the day, during a press conference in Islamabad, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said the government was employing optimum diplomatic channels to ensure Nawaz’s early return from London.

He said since there was no extradition treaty with the UK, the government had formally requested the UK authorities through the Pakistani ambassador in London to initiate the repatriation process of Nawaz Sharif.

The minister said the past rulers had deliberately refrained from signing an extradition treaty with certain countries, including the UK, keeping in mind the option to escape in future to those states where they had stashed looted national wealth and built palatial houses.

The minister said the past rulers had deliberately refrained from signing an extradition treaty with certain countries, including the UK, keeping in mind the option to escape in future to those states where they had stashed the looted national wealth and built palatial houses.

Referring to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Shibli Faraz said with the seating arrangements on stages during the public meetings, the PDM leaders seemed to be pursuing the modus operandi of ‘Banarsi Thugs’, who cheated the people with their opulent looks.

The masses had knowledge about their financial status prior to joining politics as how once bike riders did manage to become owners of land cruisers, he added.

Shibli said on the one hand a sinister alliance of opposition had emerged as the PDM just to befool the people with their lies and concocted stories and on the other, Prime Minister Imran Khan was striving hard to mitigate the financial woes being faced by the masses. 

Fawad Choudhary

Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Wednesday expressed the hope that the government would bring Nawaz Sharif back to the country by January 15. Talking to a private news channel, he said Nawaz Sharif’s position was different from others because he was convicted by the court.

He hoped that the British government would take quick decision regarding Nawaz Sharif’s case, adding the decision makers in UK were discussing to take hard decision in this regard. Chaudhry Fawad said the British government was loosing its image by giving shelter to looters and plunders.