Wednesday Oct 21, 2020
The government is hopeful Nawaz Sharif will be back in Pakistan soon to answer for the corruption charges against him, with one minister going so far as to say he will be back "by January 15".
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Wednesday said that the government is working with British authorities to finalise the modalities for Nawaz's return, while Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry expressed the hope that the return will take place by January 15.
Speaking to a television news channel, Chaudhry said decision makers in UK are holding discussions in this regard and an announcement is likely soon as "the British government is loosing its image by giving shelter to looters and plunders".
Meanwhile, Akbar, speaking to Hamid Mir on Geo News programme "Capital Talk" and referring to the date provided by Chaudhry said: "It will be my aim to bring him back even sooner."
He said that it is 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 has written to UK home secretary Priti Patel, as has also been reported by Financial Times, and she has been informed Britain is "duty bound" to deport Nawaz who has 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 October 5.
The letter urges Patel to use her “extensive powers” to deport Nawaz, arguing she is “duty bound” to do so. It cites immigration rules that criminals sentenced to four years or more must be refused leave to remain in the UK.
Akbar said what sets 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 — is that Hussain has been sentenced to death and UK law prohibits the extradition of such individuals.
Speaking of the case of former finance minister Ishaq Dar — also in London and who has 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 is sought, not extradition because Nawaz has already been convicted and he violated an agreement with the government.
Akbar said the other two individuals have reportedly sought asylum, so that makes 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, who has been declared an absconder by the court.
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.