Nawaz Sharif issued new passport to return home

Passport reportedly issued by Interior Ministry, valid for 10 years

The federal government on Monday issued a new passport to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif so that he could return to Pakistan.

According to the Interior Ministry, the former premier was issued a passport with 10-year validity. Media reports suggested that the passport was issued on April 23 and it was made in the “urgent” category. Newly sworn-in Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah had said that a diplomatic passport was Nawaz Sharif’s right and would be issued to him soon.

Talking to the media after being sworn into Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s new cabinet, he said it was “unfortunate that a person who has been prime minister three times is being deprived of national citizenship”.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had also declared a petition challenging the issuance of a diplomatic passport to the former premier inadmissible, and imposed a fine of Rs5,000 on the petitioner.

The ruling was announced after being reserved by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah. The petitioner had contended that Nawaz should not be issued a passport on the grounds that he was an “absconding convict”.

Earlier this month, PML-N leader Mian Javed Latif had claimed that Nawaz Sharif would return to the country after Eidul Fitr. The PML-N leader said the decision pertaining to Nawaz’s anticipated return would be discussed with the coalition partners and added that all decisions would first be brought before the coalition parties.

However, Nawaz Sharif’s spokesperson Muhammad Zubair refrained from making explicit remarks regarding the PML-N supremo’s return, saying “this was a sensitive subject” and could not be brought up at this stage. Nawaz was barred by the Supreme Court in 2017 from holding public office and subsequently went abroad for medical treatment after serving a few months of a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges.

Maryam’s plea

On the other hand, the Lahore High Court sought a reply from the federal government as well as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on a petition filed by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, seeking permission to fly to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.

A division bench of the LHC, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, was hearing the case.

During the proceedings, a NAB prosecutor said her name was added to the no-fly list after the LHC granted her bail. He said an appeal moved by NAB against the bail of Maryam Nawaz was also not fixed for hearing.

After hearing initial arguments, the court issued a notice to the NAB for today (Tuesday), seeking its reply. Advocate Ahsan Bhoon appeared as counsel for Maryam Nawaz and asked the court to permit his client to travel abroad on an urgent basis so that she could perform Umrah during the last days of Ramazan.

The court also allowed the Interior Ministry’s lawyer to present the ECL rules. On April 21, Maryam moved a plea before the LHC to get back her passport for travelling abroad.

She said she was arrested by NAB in 2019 in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case and later the LHC approved her bail plea, and in return, she submitted her passport to the court. The court should issue directives to return the passport of the applicant and allow her to travel to London, the plea said.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has decided to remove the name of Member of National Assembly (MNA) Mohsin Dawar from the ECL under one-time permission. Dawar is to be granted permission under the existing law of one-time permission and a summary in this regard has been prepared by the Interior Ministry.

The summary will be forwarded to the federal cabinet, and after approval, the permission will be granted. It may be mentioned here that the names of another 23 political personalities have been removed from the ECL.

The names of NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former federal secretary Shahid Rafi, and Tahir Basharat Cheema have been removed from the ECL. Also, an accountability court permitted former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Cheema to travel abroad.

The court granted Cheema one-time permission to fly out of the country against submission of surety bonds to the tune of Rs2 million. The former LDA DG had moved an application in the court, requesting it to allow him to travel to Saudi Arabia for performing Umrah.