Sunday, December 26, 2021
Amid the country's already tense political environment with the government and Opposition defending their viewpoints, a new heated 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, who is also Nawaz's brother, Shahbaz Sharif categorically said that Nawaz will not return until he has fully recovered.
In a statement issued Saturday, Shahbaz 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 Shahbaz 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.
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.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain 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.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability and Interior Barrister Shahzad Akbar questioned Nawaz Sharif could participate in the country's politics despite the Supreme Court (SC) declaring him guilty and disqualifying him for life and an accountability court convicting him in a NAB case.
"To make Nawaz Sharif eligible [to run for the highest office of the country] again, it is being rumoured that the Bar Council is filing a petition in court," said Shahzad Akbar while speaking on Geo News programme Naya Pakistan on Saturday.
"It is not appropriate for the Bar Council to file a petition in court. I do not understand how it is legally viable to make him the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the fourth time."
Responding to a query regarding the potential reversal of disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, Shahzad Akbar termed the disqualification "two-pronged". "Nawaz Sharif was firstly disqualified by the Supreme Court in the Panama case. His second disqualification is from the accountability court in two cases for ten years under the NAB law. This disqualification was slapped in 2018, hence it will end in 2028."
"Ahsan Iqbal wrongly said he [Nawaz Sharif] was disqualified on a mere Iqama. It is not correct. He was disqualified for life for telling a lie," Akbar remarked.
He said the PML-N leaders came up with an anti-establishment narrative following Nawaz's disqualification but this narrative has been changed over the last two months with an appeasement aspect. The PML-N leaders are giving controversial statements about the [possible] return of Nawaz Sharif, he said.
He said the president of the SC Bar Council had recently met Nawaz Sharif. "I believe the SC Bar Council taking up the issue is a political decision," he said.
"The Supreme Court Bar is a professional body, so it should avoid indulging itself into political matters. Submitting an application from the council regarding Nawaz Sharif's case was not appropriate. They have not taken up the step so far. I call upon them to review it and avoid it."
Shahzad Akbar said he heard that Nawaz Sharif's appeal for an extension in the London stay has been rejected as he went to the UK on medical grounds, but he did not get any healthcare in London for two years from day one till date.
If he comes back, Nawaz Sharif will be taken to the Kot Lakhpat jail and he can receive relief, if any, from the courts alone, he said.
"I call upon the PML-N leaders like Ahsan Iqbal to stop influencing the courts by fabricating evidence, including fake affidavits and audios," he said.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr Shahbaz Gill said former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was not returning for any political reasons but was being expelled due to expiry of his passport.
Talking to the media at a wedding ceremony in Burewala, he regretted that attempts were being made to give an impression that Nawaz Sharif was returning due to political reasons.
He said Nawaz Sharif went to the UK on medical grounds and he would be sent straight to jail from the airport on arrival. He said news reports about Nawaz Sharif’s return were being spread for political gains, though it had nothing to do with any deal.
Gill said if Nawaz Sharif's jail terms were to be abolished, all the jails of the country must set free all prisoners. He said Nawaz had given a written statement in court that the Qatari princes were their family ATM machines. The PML-N’s top tier leadership is either divided, confused or uninformed on Nawaz Sharif’s possible return.
Speaking on Geo News programme ‘Naya Pakistan’, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal differed with Ayaz Sadiq and said with conviction that the return of Nawaz Sharif was subject to approval by his doctors. "I categorically say Nawaz Sharif will return by next flight available once his doctors allow him to do so," said Ahsan.
Earlier, Ayaz Sadiq, another PML-N stalwart, claimed that Nawaz Sharif was returning soon as the time of justice had arrived for him. Sadiq’s claim stirred the political scenario, as he has just got back home after meeting Nawaz Sharif in London.
Ahsan Iqbal clarified that the PML-N and masses, in general, believed that Nawaz Sharif would be exonerated once he got a fair trial.
"Everyone knows Nawaz Sharif was victimised in the name of accountability, where he was disqualified on Iqama (permit) in the Panama case," Ahsan said.
Emphasizing that Nawaz Sharif’s stay in London was only for medical reasons, Ahsan said permission to go abroad for treatment was conditional with the government contacting the doctors of Nawaz Sharif through the high commission in London if it felt or found that he was misusing his stay in London, but the govt didn't use this channel even once in these two years as they know that his ailment and treatment are of a serious nature.
"They are using it just for political consumption," the PML-N leader added.