Nawaz Sharif gets passport, free to travel

LONDON: The Government of Pakistan has issued a new passport to the PML-N leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, enabling him to travel to Pakistan.

Official documents, seen by PEN , show that Nawaz’s passport was issued in Islamabad on April 23, 2022, at 2:49pm (PST). The nature of the passport is “ordinary”, and it was made in the “urgent” category, according to the available evidence.

The former prime minister’s new passport is valid for 10 years — till April 2032. The passport’s status is “active” as per the evidence shared by a trusted source.

A credible source said that Nawaz’s appointment for fingerprints at Pakistan High Commission was set for April 23, at Pakistan High Commission London, but it was cancelled the last time, however, the reason behind the appointment’s cancellation is not clear.

The newly sworn-in Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah said last week that a diplomatic passport was Nawaz’s Sharif right and it would be issued to him.

“It is unfortunate that a person who has been prime minister three times is being deprived of national citizenship,” the interior minister had said.

But the passport issued to Nawaz is not diplomatic but “ordinary”.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had Monday dismissed a petition challenging the possible issuance of a diplomatic passport to Nawaz. The court dismissed the petition stating that it is “based on unreliable material and is, therefore, frivolous”.

Advocate Naeem Haider Panjutha had filed a petition in the IHC based on media reports that said Nawaz was being issued a diplomatic passport on the instructions of his brother and newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Two weeks back, the federal government directed the Ministry of Interior to renew the passports of the ex-prime minister and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

Imran Khan’s government had refused to renew Nawaz’s passport after it expired in February last year but then-interior minister Sheikh Rasheed had said if the PML-N supremo wanted to return he could be issued a special certificate.

The PML-N supremo was granted an eight-week bail on medical grounds in October 2019, and a month later, he was allowed to travel abroad for treatment for four weeks — but he is still in London to date.

Khan had repeatedly lashed out at Nawaz for going abroad for treatment, but earlier in February, he noted that letting the PML-N supremo leave Pakistan was a “major mistake” of his government.