ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) opposition party, Nawaz Sharif, on Thursday filed an appeal with the British Immigration Tribunal after the Home Department refused to extend his stay in the country on “medical grounds,” Pakistani media reported.
The 70-year-old Sharif has been living in self-imposed exile in London after Pakistani authorities temporarily released him on bail from a seven-year prison sentence in November 2019 so he could travel abroad for medical treatment. Sharif, who has dominated Pakistani politics for three decades, denies the corruption charges against him, claiming they are politically motivated.
Last December, a top Pakistani court declared Sharif a fugitive from the law after he failed to return home to face additional corruption charges. The same month, the interior minister announced his passport would be cancelled.
“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 Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper on Thursday.
“Mr Sharif has already filed an appeal with the British Immigration Tribunal challenging the Home Department’s decision. The UK Home Department’s decision will remain in effect till the tribunal arrives at a decision.”
“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,” Aurangzeb added.
On Thursday, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain offered Sharif “special documents” to help him return to the country.
Hussain said Sharif now had an option to apply for an emergency travel document from the Pakistan High Commission in the UK to return to the country and face corruption cases against him.
“He has no legal grounds to satisfy the tribunal about his further stay in London,” the information minister said. “Neither Imran Khan nor the PTI [ruling party] has any enmity with Nawaz Sharif. We want him to come back to the country, deposit the looted money amounting to billions of rupees into the exchequer and afterwards stay at his home.”