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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Long shadows of Nawaz Sharif

Barrister Iftikhar Ahmad talks about the British Home Office’s refusal to accommodate Nawaz Sharif’s request to extend his visa in the UK so what options are left for the former Prime Minister? He further talks about the possibility of Modi offering asylum to Nawaz and what could be the implications of it.

The matter of Nawaz Sharif’s visa extension refusal has rightly become an interesting talk and more importantly soon after my arrival in London a few days ago, I am hearing about this topic regularly in different circles. Those of my friends who rub shoulders with NS (now you can literally do that) are dismissive about the seriousness of the quagmire NS finds himself in. “You don’t know what’s happing in the background”-“Just watch what is going to happen”-“ British government is dominated by Indians-British”-“Modi is working through Priti Patel” etcetera etcetera-is the common refrain from the Park Lane visitors.

Few things need to be understood without and ambiguity before making any intelligible opinion about the fate of NS. His leaving Pakistan was akin to escaping Alcatraz. His deportation or return would be a return to Alcatraz.

Read more: India may offer asylum to Nawaz Sharif: Aitzaz Ahsan

Will Nawaz return to Pakistan? 

He and his family know this too well. No one in his right mind would ditch a Rolls Royce for a police van! He is not a fool to swap Avenfield House for Adyala jail so easily. But tracing the path to freedom from Modi to Priti to Nawaz’s indefinite leave to remain until Justice Qazi Faiz Isa of Kendal Street fame, becomes the Chief Justice of Pakistan is fanciful and utterly fallacious.

We generally are lazy people who always see the past files and look for ready answers. Iftikhar Ch acquitting Nawaz Sharif by trampling over the law of limitations was one of the tragic decisions of our pathetic judicial history. This won’t happen again for a plethora of reasons. But we don’t bother to dwell on the dynamics of global and regional changes-impacting on the Pakistani political paradigm. Now institutions matter more than individuals. Altaf Hussain’s earlier patronage by the British establishment had a cogent reason.

Read more: Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif offered me party tickets: PM Imran Khan

He once commanded the seashore city of Karachi having the potential of secession. He had a field day being a British fiddle but he was very relevant at that time. Sadly for Nawaz Sharif, he may be an asset for Modi but is of zero value to British interests. They know he’s a convicted person who is incapable of contesting elections being disqualified under the constitution of Pakistan. They fully well know that his party has influence in parts of only one province of the country.

What are Nawaz’s options?

Furthermore, demeaning the military leadership and generally anti-army postering has deprived him of the single most vital attribute for any aspirant to run the country today. ◦ The exact nature of his visit visa limits and dates are only available on his passport but he undoubtedly has remained a visitor like any other.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif always worked with India for his business interests, reveals Abdul Basit

The longevity of his stay is understood because of the law providing 11 months visa to medical patients visiting for private treatment. He came with a diplomatic passport for which a visa is granted on arrival. Now the visa is over and so is the passport.

No visa extension is granted administratively or judicially without a valid passport. It’s a document affixed to a page of a valid passport. No ministerial interference or influence is ever available in judicial matters and that is the independence of the judiciary for which countries look up to England.

A roundup of Nawaz’s visit to the UK 

  1. NS does not wish to leave the UK.

2. His medical grounds reasoning for an extension has failed and hardly any ground can improve it.

3. His refusal by the immigration tribunal would restrict his chances of further appeal to the Upper Tribunal that only hears appeals on grounds of law and not facts.

4. Judicial review, if any, would land him in the high court where he could find the judge making an Unexplained Wealth Order against him. Out of the frying pan into the fire!

5. The issue of having no valid passport will dog his lawyers considerably.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif’s seized properties to be auctioned: Will he surrender?

There are only 2 options for him to apply to remain political asylum or a £10 million visa but the law of deportation of convicted criminals sentenced abroad to more than 12 months (UK BORDER ACT 2007) will impede his efforts. This’s the first time the immigration bells are tolling for Nawaz Sharif and instead of relying on Modi, Priti Patel, or any Tom, Dick, or Harry, he must make personal choices by doing politics rather than business before the long shadows disappear.

Iftikhar Ahmad is a Pakistani barrister, political activist and former military officer. He served in the Pakistan army between 1968-78. He fought in East Pakistan in 1971 and was a PoW in India. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.