ISLAMABAD: In a strong indication that the government is not in a mood to renew Nawaz Sharif’s diplomatic passport, near to the expiry date, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Wednesday that the passport of the former Prime Minister will be cancelled next year on Feb 16.
On his second visit to the Capital Planning Authority, he was talking to reporters. The minister, who had been claiming for several days that he had yet to confirm the expiry date of Mr. Sharif’s passport, was asked who was next in line after the detention of Khawaja Asif, the PML-N parliamentary leader in the National Assembly.
He answered that little was known about it, but added, “Let me give you a piece of news.” We will cancel the passport of Nawaz Sharif on Feb 16.
Although the minister did not provide any information, Dawn was informed by a senior official in the Interior Ministry that Feb 16 was in fact the expiry date of the diplomatic passport of Nawaz Sharif. He said the PML-N supreme leader was issued a red passport bearing the number BV5128363 with a five-year validity on Feb 18, 2016. He said this was the only legal travel document kept by Mr Sharif and would make him stateless by its expiry on Feb 16, 2021.
Son says former premier is legally represented in UK and will consult lawyers regarding next steps
Under the law, past presidents, prime ministers, chairmen of the Senate, members of the National Assembly, chief magistrates, governors, chief ministers, ministers and ministers of state, special assistants of the prime minister, and attorneys general are allowed to carry diplomatic passports, but the official said that the situation of Mr. Sharif was different because he was an absconder.
Hussain Nawaz, son of the former prime minister, meanwhile, speaking to Dawn in London about the development, said: “This is not at all shocking.” We had no expectation of any [government] goodwill from them. The way Khawaja Asif was detained and their continuing imprisonment of Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz is proof of their intentions.
He said that in the United Kingdom, Nawaz Sharif was legally represented and would consult his attorneys on the next move.
Since November last year, Nawaz Sharif has been staying in London after being permitted to leave the country for medical care.
Earlier this month, in two cases, Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia, the Islamabad High Court ruled the PML-N supremo a declared criminal after he refused to appear before the court.
On the same day, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the advisor to the Prime Minister for Transparency and Home Affairs, said that the UK authorities had been ordered to remove the convicted former Prime Minister from their country. He stated that Pakistan had written a letter to the United Kingdom demanding that it revoke the Nawaz Sharif visa granted for medical care after the undertaking had been approved.
In October, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he would meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, if possible, to negotiate the deportation of Mr Sharif.
In the case of Nawaz Sharif, the government hopes to urge the UK authorities to bring about a compulsory expulsion, also called administrative removal, a situation in which the Home Office demands the removal of persons from the UK if they do not have to stay (state leave).
A legal specialist familiar with British law said the United Kingdom had a policy on stateless citizens who were usually permitted to live in the country. He said there were bright chances of his stay being extended in a case involving a high-profile political figure like Nawaz Sharif.
If he/she was not accepted as a citizen of another country, was unable to live permanently in any other country and was currently in Britain, the expert said one may apply to remain in the UK as a stateless individual. He said that those who could not return to another country were forced to seek asylum first out of fear of persecution there.
On Sept. 15, an IHC bench released non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz Sharif after he had refused to appear before the court at the hearing of his appeals against conviction in the cases of Al-Azizia and Avenfield. The bench later began the process of calling the PML-N supreme leader and absconder and directed the authorities concerned to print in London-based newspapers advertisements or proclamations, summoning Mr. Sharif on Nov 24.
The IHC had noted that it would be declared an absconder if Nawaz Sharif did not appear before it within 30 days after the release of the advertisements. The court also directed the authorities to put the notice outside his residences in London and Lahore.