In a big blow to ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the UK government has rejected his application seeking an extension of his visa on medical grounds. After the UK Home Office informed him of this decision, he filed an appeal in the British Immigration Tribunal. Thus, he can continue to stay in the country pending the verdict of the tribunal. Since last year, Sharif has come under increasing criticism from the Pakistan government after he started engaging in political activities. Earlier in February, the passport of the PML(N) supremo, who has been staying in London since November 19, 2019, for "medical treatment", expired.
A three-time PM, Nawaz Sharif was forced to resign in July 2017 after the Pakistan Supreme Court disqualified him in its Panama Papers verdict. Just a few days before the 2018 election in July, he and his daughter Maryam Nawaz who were leading the campaign for civilian supremacy were convicted by an accountability court in the Avenfield reference case and sentenced to 10 years and 7 years in prison respectively. However, the Islamabad High Court suspended their sentence and granted them bail in September 2018.
Only a few months later, the accountability court convicted the PML(N) supremo in the Al- Azizia Steel Mills Company and Hill Metal Establishment references and awarded him 7 years imprisonment besides a hefty fine. Languishing in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail since December 2018, his health started deteriorating. In October 2019, he had to be rushed to the Services Hospital in the city as his platelet count dropped to a critically low level. The Lahore High Court allowed him to travel abroad in November to seek further treatment as his condition remained serious.
This was after he gave an undertaking whereby he promised to return to Pakistan within 4 weeks or whenever he was in a fit condition to travel. After he failed to appear before the Islamabad HC in connection with the appeals against his conviction despite various notices, it declared him a 'proclaimed offender' on December 2, 2020. Since then, the Imran Khan-led government has officially pushed for Nawaz Sharif's repatriation.
In fact, Pakistan's Ministry of Interior has refused to renew the former PM's passport until he appears in court. At the same time, it clarified that he will be issued an emergency travel document if he seeks to return to Pakistan. In another setback to Sharif, the Islamabad HC dismissed his appeals against his conviction in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references for being fugitive from the law.