Tug-of-war continues over ex-PM Sharif’s return to Pakistan

Special Tug-of-war continues over ex-PM Sharif’s return to Pakistan
A supporter of Pakistan former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif distributes sweets after the High court bailed Sharif on medical grounds, outside a hospital, in Lahore on Oct. 25, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 02 March 2020

Tug-of-war continues over ex-PM Sharif’s return to Pakistan

Tug-of-war continues over ex-PM Sharif’s return to Pakistan
  • Government has decided to write to UK for Sharif’s deportation, says PM’s aide 
  • The ailing thrice former premier was granted eight-week medical bail in October 2019

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will not return to Pakistan before finishing treatment in London, a spokesman for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said on Monday, as the government seeks ailing former premier extradited for violating medical bail conditions.

“Nawaz Sharif won’t return to Pakistan unless he fully recovers,” said Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, a close aide of Sharif’s and a senior PML-N leader. “We will exercise all our legal options to block the government’s deportation move,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant on information, Firdous Ashiq Awan, said on Sunday, “The government has decided to seek Sharif’s deportation and is going to reach out to relevant UK authorities for the purpose.”

“It’s time to bring back the VIP prisoner who is having a lavish stay abroad,” she said.

The ex-premier and opposition leader was granted eight-week medical bail in October last year for treatment in London. The Islamabad High Court allowed him to request an extension from the provincial government of Punjab, but the latter rejected it last week, citing insufficient legal, moral or medical grounds.
Sharif’s party maintains that the thrice ex-premier is critically ill and should not return to Pakistan comprising his medical treatment.

“They (the government) know Nawaz Sharif is critically ill but they are trying to play to the gallery by giving statements like seeking his deportation,” Chaudhry told Arab News, adding that the party will move the court to get the former premier’s bail extended.

In December 2018, Sharif was sentenced to seven years in jail for corruption. He denies any wrongdoing and has termed all charges against him as politically motivated.

According to legal experts, the possibility of deportation is limited in the absence of an extradition treaty between Pakistan and the UK.

“It is a complex and time-taking process to get a person deported from UK in absence of a mutual legal treaty,” said Muzzammil Mukhtar, solicitor and director of London-based law firm Synthesis Chambers Solicitors.

He said the former prime minister could plead in UK court that he risks prosecution in Pakistan under “politically motivated and malicious charges” to get a stay order against his extradition.

“Nawaz Sharif can seek to stay in London under Article 2 and 3 of the European convention on human rights,” Mukhtar told Arab News. “A person’s right to life and protection based on medical conditions is covered under these articles.”