Nawaz Sharif denied visa extension by UK, files appeal

Islamabad, Pakistan Aug 6 : Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has filed an appeal in the British Immigration Tribunal after the UK Home Department refused to extend his stay in the country on “medical grounds” any further.

The decision of the UK Home Department prompted the Imran Khan government to offer the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supreme leader to arrange for his return to Pakistan at 24 hours’ notice if he is willing, the Dawn reported.

“The UK Home Department has refused to extend Nawaz Sharif’s stay in the country any further on medical grounds. However, Mr Sharif will legally remain in the UK till the tribunal issues its decision on his plea for his stay in the country,” PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn on Thursday.

Dispelling an impression that Nawaz Sharif had applied for asylum after refusal of his visa extension, Aurangzeb said, “This does not in any way amount to a political asylum and is only a request for an extension to his stay on medical grounds.”

“As long as the treatment of Mr Sharif is not completed and doctors do not allow him travel he will remain in the UK,” she said.

The passport of Mr Sharif, who has been ‘absconding’ in London since November 2019 on medical treatment grounds, had expired in February this year.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaan (PTI) government had declined a request for issuance of a new diplomatic passport to Sharif. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had already declared that Nawaz Sharif’s passport would not be renewed as per “instructions from Prime Minister Imran Khan”.

Meanwhile, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif telephoned his elder brother in London and insisted that he stay there “till his treatment is completed”.

Mr Nawaz Sharif was allowed to leave the country for four weeks, extendable on the basis of medical reports.

He was serving a seven-year imprisonment in the Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia corruption case before his departure to London.

The three-time premier has been in London since 2019, and has reportedly applied for multiple extensions in his stay. Foreigners on visas can stay in the UK for up to six months in one stretch.

Meanwhile, 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.

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 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaan party have 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.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had declared Sharif 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 had asked the British government to repatriate Sharif through a letter that Adviser to the PM on Accountability Mirza Shehzad Akbar wrote to British Home Secretary Priti Patel, the said.

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