Rest of Asia

Pakistan govt rejects Nawaz Sharif’s application for renewal of passport

Filed on March 24, 2021
Nawaz Sharif’s official passport expired in February of this year.

(AFP file)

The ministry of interior offers former prime minister special documents to return to the country

The ministry of interior has rejected an application of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking renewal of his passport as he has been declared a “proclaimed offender” by the Islamabad High Court and is wanted in several other ongoing cases.

However, the ministry has offered him special documents to return to the country, it emerged on Wednesday.

The official passport of the former prime minister, who was allowed to go to London for medical treatment, expired early this year and he formally lodged an application with the Pakistan High Commission in London for its renewal.

Interior Minis­ter Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had announced in January that the PML-N leader’s passport would not be renewed as per instructions from Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The ministry, in a letter to the high commission, has cited a number of reasons and directed it to stop further process.

The letter said Sharif has been declared a proclaimed offender by the Islamabad High Court in a criminal appeal as well as by an accountability court in Islamabad in the Toshakhana reference.

“Similarly, he has been declared a proclaimed offender in a land case involving Jang group editor-in-chief Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman by an accountability court in Lahore.”

The ministry said Sharif was required to return to Pakistan and appear before the courts to face charges. “He, being a fugitive of law and absconder, cannot seek any further relief unless he surrenders before the courts in Pakistan,” the letter states.

The letter pointed out that as per the Islamabad High Court’s order of October 2019, “Sharif was granted 8-week bail in the form of suspension of sentence, which upon expiry was not extended by the Punjab Government as he failed to put forth reasonable cause as to why it should be extended for his medical treatment”.

The letter stated that Sharif was now required to serve the remainder of his sentence at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore.

“Yet, rather than obeying the dictates of the court and abiding by the conditions precedent in the bail granting order, he fled the country to avoid prosecution.”

The ministry said Sharif had “failed to satisfy as to how he fulfills the requirements as envisaged under the relevant scheme of law for renewal of passport”.

“It is pertinent to mention that issuance of passport is not a fundamental right of any citizen. It being a property of the Federal Government may only be issued once the applicant satisfies the relevant authorities regarding the bonafide of the application. A citizen’s right to travel abroad extinguishes once declared a fugitive of law.”

The ministry said the former prime minister might apply for the Emergency Travel Document (ETD) from the Pakistan High Commission in London and the same might be issued once he produced prior bookings of travel to Pakistan through PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) only.

The ministry asked the Pakistan High Commission in London to convey the same to Sharif.

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