Branding former prime minister a fugitive and absconder, ministry says he cannot seek any relief until he surrenders before courts in Pakistan
Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior has rejected an application of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking a renewal of his expired passport, maintaining that as an absconder he is not entitled to any relief until he agrees to surrender himself before court.
In a written reply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ request for guidance, the Interior Ministry said that Sharif’s application was “misconceived” and should not be processed. “Nawaz Sharif has been declared a proclaimed offender by the Islamabad High Court” in the Toshakhana Reference and the case of Mir Shakilur Rehman by an accountability court in Lahore. He is therefore, read the statement, required to return to Pakistan to face the charges against him. “He being a fugitive of law and absconder cannot seek any further relief unless he surrenders before the courts in Pakistan,” it added.
Summarizing the charge-sheet against Sharif, the Interior Ministry noted that he had been granted 8-week bail to seek medical treatment abroad, adding that this had not been extended as he failed to justify the treatment he was receiving. “Hence, Sharif is now required to serve the remainder of his sentence at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore,” it said, adding that rather than obeying the court’s instructions, Sharif had “fled the country to avoid prosecution.”
Noting that there were three cases pending against him before the Islamabad High Court, and a fourth before an Accountability Court, the ministry said that in light of his offenses, Sharif had failed to satisfy “how he fulfills the requirements as envisaged under the relevant scheme of law for renewal of passport.” The statement stressed that passports are “a property of the federal government” and could only be issued once relevant authorities are satisfied about the bonafide of the application. “A citizen’s right to travel abroad extinguishes once declared a fugitive of law,” it added.
The interior ministry said that if Sharif wished to return to Pakistan, he could apply for an Emergency Travel Document, adding that this would be granted after he produced evidence of intent to travel to Pakistan.
In a separate circular addressed to the Additional Secretary (Europe) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Interior Ministry cited a Lahore High Court order of Nov. 16, 2019 that granted bail to Sharif and tasked him with securing the following information from the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader:
- Current diagnosis by the medical doctors
- Name and address of doctors under whom you are receiving medical treatment
- Copies of all medical reports including tests undertaken in the U.K. with results of the tests
- Details of treatment (if any) received in U.K. hospitals
- Details of ongoing treatment (if any)
- Dates of visits and consultations made with doctors in the U.K.
The circular directed Sharif to sign a consent form in the U.K. for release of his medical information to the Pakistan High Commission in London, noting it would contact the medical team for the relevant information. “The provision of medical information is stipulated in the undertaking provided by Muhammad Nawaz Sharif before the Honorable Lahore High Court,” it added.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly claimed that allowing Sharif to travel abroad “was a mistake,” and alleged that the former premier had falsified his medical tests to be allowed to leave Pakistan. Sharif, diagnosed with an immune system disorder, left Pakistan in November 2019 via air ambulance after his condition continued to deteriorate despite treatment.