British govt rejects Nawaz Sharif's visa extension plea

UK Home Office says former prime minister has right to appeal against the decision


News Desk August 05, 2021
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

In a major blow to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the British government rejected a visa extension request of the party's supreme leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The UK Home Office has informed Nawaz Sharif of its decision. However, the former premier has the right to appeal against the decision.

In a video statement, Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Pakistan had already requested the UK authorities not to give refuge to people involved in corruption in the country.

He advised the former premier to reach out to Pakistan's embassy, get a temporary passport since his passport has expired and return to Pakistan to face the courts.

On his right to appeal, the federal minister predicted that it will be denied because he is not sick. "If he [Nawaz Sharif] lies in the UK courts, he might have to serve jail time," he added.

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Fawad further said that the way Nawaz was moving around in restaurants in Britain showed that he was not sick. "If he tells another lie to extend his visa application, he could be sentenced by British courts."

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the PTI has no grudge against the former premier but bringing back looted wealth is a necessary step.

"Nawaz Sharif can get back to Pakistan, return looted wealth and can stay at his residence here... otherwise he would have to return the wealth anyway and would go to jail as well," the information minister added.

In a statement, Marriyum said the UK's Home Department had refused to extend Nawaz Sharif's stay in the country, adding that the PML-N leader can challenge the decision in the immigration tribunal.

She said that the former prime minister's lawyer's had filed an appeal for visa extension with the immigration tribunal, adding that the UK Home Department's decision would remain ineffective till the immigration tribunal reaches a verdict.

Answering a question, Marriyum said that “this does not in any way amount to a political asylum and is only a request for an extension in stay on medical grounds”.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC), however, had declared him a proclaimed offender on December 2 as the former premier failed to appear before the bench – originally formed to hear his appeals against his convictions – despite various notices.

According to a report published in London-based Financial Times newspaper in October last year, Pakistan also asked the British government to repatriate Nawaz Sharif through a letter that Adviser to the PM on Accountability Mirza Shehzad Akbar wrote to British Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Also read: The wages of misplaced accountability

In March, the Ministry of Interior recommended the Foreign Office to not renew the passport of Nawaz, saying that the former prime minister had failed to satisfy the government on why his passport should be renewed and therefore he cannot be given ‘further relief’ until he appears in court.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sent a request to the Pakistan High Commission in the UK to renew the passport of the three-time premier which was later sent to the interior ministry for further processing.

The interior ministry, while rejecting the request, said that both the IHC and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) have declared Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender and therefore he cannot be given further relief until he appears in court.

"Nawaz Sharif could not satisfy why his passport should be renewed further. If he wants to return, he can apply for an emergency travel document (ETD). The Pakistan High Commission should respond to Nawaz's request in writing that his passport cannot be renewed," the letter further stated.

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