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Govt not to renew Nawaz’s passport after Feb 16

Sheikh Rashid says if PPP has decided to take part in Senate polls, it will also take part in by-polls

ISLAMABAD:The PTI government has decided not to renew former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s passport which is set to expire on February 16 in an apparent attempt to compel the convicted PML-N leader – who has been in London since November 2019 – to return home.

“We have decided to cancel Nawaz Sharif’s passport on February 16,” Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid said on Wednesday when a reporter asked him as to what is going to happen next after PML-N leader Khawaja Asif’s arrest. Rashid, however, did not share any further details.

Rashid was talking to the media during his visit to the Capital Development Authority headquarters.

Nawaz Sharif, serving a seven-year prison term after his conviction in December 2018, was given a rare permission in October 2019 to get medical treatment abroad in view of a debilitating health condition.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC), however, 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 October in London-based Financial Times newspaper, 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.

In the letter, Akbar wrote that 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”. He added that the home secretary was “duty bound” to deport the former prime minister.

However, some experts believe it will be Nawaz Sharif who will benefit from a decision not to renew his passport. They said even if Nawaz’s passport is not renewed, the British government may give an extension in his visa. They said the UK government has done that in the case of PML-N leader Ishaq Dar.

When the Pakistan government refused to issue him a new passport after the expiry of the previous one, the UK government gave Dar the permission to stay in Britain, they said. The experts said Nawaz Sharif is not on the negative list of any security agency and there is no adverse report against him.

They said the decision to renew Nawaz’s decision is now to be taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while the Ministry of Interior’s policy with regard to the citizens above 55 years of age is that they do not need to renew their computerized national identity cards (CNICs).

According to sources, Nawaz Sharif has not yet applied for renewal of his passport.

Rasheed on PPP moves

Sheikh Rashid said if the PPP has decided to take part in the Senate elections then it will also be participating in the upcoming by-polls. The interior minister was commenting on the decisions of the PPP Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting held on Tuesday.

The PPP announced it will contest the upcoming Senate elections, while endorsing at the same time almost all decisions of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an 11-party opposition alliance. Interestingly, the PDM parties on Dec 14 decided to resign from all legislatures. The party also decided to challenge the PTI governments at the centre and in other provinces through no-confidence motions.

The interior minister said the door for dialogue is open. However, he called the opposition members thieves, who, according to him, now want to get a reprieve. “They are all going to be exposed,” he said.

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