Roadblocks in Nawaz Sharif’s Return to Pakistan as Plea Seeks to Block New PM’s Diplomatic Passport for Brother

The Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia Steel Mills case continues to haunt Nawaz Sharif but his arrival ahead of cabinet appointment leads to speculations that he could play a major role backstage. (Reuters File)

The Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia Steel Mills case continues to haunt Nawaz Sharif but his arrival ahead of cabinet appointment leads to speculations that he could play a major role backstage. (Reuters File)

The petition comes at a time when Shehbaz Sharif faces a crisis with cabinet formation as Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has reportedly expressed his reservations about joining the cabinet ranks and wants to support the government from outside

Two days after Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered that his elder brother Nawaz Sharif be issued a diplomatic passport so that he can return to his home country, a petition seeking non-issuance of the passport has been filed on the grounds that the former prime minister is a convict and absconder.

The petition seeks immediate arrest of Nawaz Sharif on arrival and says “he should be produced before a court of competent jurisdiction”. It also pleads that during the pendency of the petition, the passport should not be issued to the elder Sharif.

Earlier, people familiar with developments had told CNN-News18 that Nawaz Sharif might return to Islamabad after Eid. He is currently in London seeking treatment for his ailments and faces corruption charges in Pakistan. It is also likely that he will be jailed on his return to Islamabad.

The former prime minister faces charges for forging documents to obscure ownership of offshore companies used to buy real estate properties in London and the UK. The Pakistan Supreme Court initiated the proceedings after the details of these charges were leaked during the Panama Papers investigation.

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The petition comes at a time when Shehbaz Sharif faces a crisis with cabinet formation as Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has reportedly expressed his reservations about joining the cabinet ranks and wants to support the government from outside.

Amid the back and forth over ministries, sources told CNN-News18 that the establishment, aka Pakistan’s deep state, Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), indirectly nudged to the Sharifs that the senior Sharif should return to Pakistan as the nation needed him.

The Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia Steel Mills case continues to haunt Nawaz Sharif but his arrival ahead of cabinet appointment leads to speculations that he could play a major role backstage while his younger brother leads the charge.

Nawaz Sharif has been in London, UK, since November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for medical treatment. He faces up to seven years imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case and 10 years in prison for owning assets beyond known sources of income and one year for not cooperating with the investigation of the Avenfield case. All sentences will run concurrently.

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