It has been several months that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went to London on the pretext on seeking medical treatment. We have not heard much about him ever since except he is suffering from a complicated ailment and is unlikely is return anytime soon.
The government made several attempts to receive health updates from his physicians but they were unsatisfactory. The Punjab government has canceled the bail given to the PML-N leader. Now as the last resort, the federal government has written a letter to British authorities to deport him.
The decision shows the desperation for the PTI government which received considerable flak last year for allowing him to go abroad. The government says that it is necessary to fulfill legal requirements but is unlikely to be effective in bring the former premier back.
The UK does not have an extradition treaty with Pakistan and deportations are made on violation of local laws and not the request of foreign countries. Nawaz Sharif has not violated any laws during his stay. He is also not a fugitive as he left after being granted permission by the courts on medical grounds and his sentence was suspended. In any case, the process of deportation is a long and complicated one and could take several months.
The government has acted in haste to demonstrate that efforts are being made to bring him back. There is no reasonable explanation for why the courts have not been moved yet. The best strategy would be to approach the courts and urge them to get updates on Nawaz’s health. The government is avoiding another clash with the judiciary triggered after the fiasco since Nawaz Sharif left the country.
The PML-N has blamed the government for misstating facts about Nawaz’s health, saying that arrangements are being made for his surgery after being examined by British and American doctors. The nature of the surgery is not known but it has been delayed twice due to the absence of Maryam Nawaz. This rare health update is being viewed as the effect of the letter written to the British authorities as it has irked the PML-N.
Nawaz Sharif certainly seems to have violated the eight-week medical bail by staying in London for over three months. He should clarify about his health to not raise any doubts. The government should not use this issue for political purposes. If Nawaz fails to return the onus will be on the former premier rather than the government that he has deceived the nation and preferred to stay abroad.