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Former Pak PM Nawaz Sharif gets new passport–now free to return

Pakistan’s elder statesman Nawaz Sharif has finally been issued a new passport by the government, led by his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif

The last hurdle standing the way of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s return  has been removed.

Pakistan’s elder statesman has finally been  issued a new passport by the government, led by his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif. According to Nawaz Sharif’s confidants, he will be returning to his country immediately after  Eid, though his spokesperson Muhammad Zubair, refused to give the exact date of his return.

 “This is a sensitive subject and cannot be broached at this stage,” Express Tribune quoted him as saying.

The ousted former Premier Imran Khan led government had refused to  renew Nawaz Sharif’s diplomatic passport which expired on February 16 this year. The argument was that  Sharif was an “absconding” convicted person. On the contrary, the Khan government had asked the UK government to extradite Sharif, who has been living in London since 2019 on health grounds.

Sharif was granted an eight-week bail on medical grounds in October 2019, and a month later, he was allowed to travel abroad for treatment for four weeks — a timeline that the former Prime Minister did not stick to.

Khan had repeatedly lashed out against Sharif’ visit abroad for medical treatment. In February, he noted that letting the PML-N supremo leave Pakistan was a “major mistake” of his government.

But with Khan’s ouster, the Shehbaz Sharif government is singing to a different tune.

“It is unfortunate that a person who has been prime minister thrice is being deprived of national citizenship,” said the new Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.

Shehbaz Sharif, the new Prime Minister,  had made it clear that his first priority was to get back Nawaz Sharif,  the PML-N supremo as soon as possible. His close associate and a Pakistani federal minister Javed Latif had said that Sharif’s lawyers have already challenged both of his convictions in the Islamabad High Court, which would take up the matter once he appears before the court. “He is ready to face the cases as per the law and the constitution as he believes in court and will accept its verdict,” Latif observed.

Also Read: Will Nawaz Sharif’s return from “exile” for the third time prove lucky?

According to his senior party members, after the formation of the new government, Nawaz Sharif has been very active and “advising” all ruling coalition for smooth running of the government.  Last week, he met Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in London and discussed the "overall political situation" in Pakistan and vowed to work together on issues pertaining to politics and national interest.

Also Read: Bilawal Bhutto meets Pakistan’s elder statesman Nawaz Sharif—have the two worked out a power sharing deal?