Pakistan has asked the British government to repatriate former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to serve his jail sentence for corruption in Pakistan, London-based Financial Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar said on Wednesday that the government was working with the British authorities to finalise modalities for Nawaz’s return, while Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry hoped that the return would take place by Jan 15.

The federal government has requested the UK government for a third time to send back former premier and supreme leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif to serve out his sentence in a Pakistani prison. — Photo courtesy Atika Rehman/File

Speaking to a television news channel, the Chaudhry said decision-makers in the UK were holding discussions in this regard and an announcement was soon, as “the British government is losing its image by giving shelter to the looters and plunderers”.

Meanwhile, Shahzad Akbar, speaking to Hamid Mir on Geo News programme “Capital Talk” and referring to the date provided by the Chaudhry said, “It will be my aim to bring him back even sooner.”

He said that it was up to the UK government but quipped: “There is a flight of deportees coming back soon and we would want to save money and have him come on the same flight.”

The premier’s adviser said that the government had written to UK home secretary Priti Patel, as had also been reported by Financial Times, and she had been informed Britain was “duty-bound” to deport Nawaz, who had been in London for nearly a year since he was allowed to seek medical treatment there in November 2019.

Nawaz Sharif “has been responsible for pillaging the state and I trust that you will be supportive of our efforts to bring those responsible for corruption to account”, Akbar wrote to Patel on Oct 5.

The letter urged Patel to use her “extensive powers” to deport Nawaz, arguing she was “duty-bound” to do so. It cited immigration rules that criminals sentenced to four years or more must be refused leave to remain in the UK.

Akbar said what set Nawaz’s case apart from MQM founder Altaf Hussain — in London and wanted in cases of murder, targeted killings, treason, inciting violence and hate speeches — was that Hussain had been sentenced to death and the UK law prohibited the extradition of such individuals.

About the case of former finance minister Ishaq Dar — also in London and who had been declared an absconder by an accountability court on corruption charges — he said, “Ishaq Dar is not a convict, he is undergoing sentence […] we have a [Memorandum of Understanding] with the UK authorities and they will implement the decision through the court.”

He said in Nawaz’s case, deportation was sought, not extradition because Nawaz had already been convicted and he violated an agreement with the government. Akbar said the other two individuals had reportedly sought asylum, so that made the matter different on an additional count.

Earlier in the day, during a press conference in Islamabad, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said the government was employing optimum diplomatic channels to ensure Nawaz’s early return from London.

He said since there was no extradition treaty with the UK, the government had formally requested the UK authorities through the Pakistani ambassador in London to initiate the repatriation process of Nawaz Sharif.

The minister said the past rulers had deliberately refrained from signing an extradition treaty with certain countries, including the UK, keeping in mind the option to escape in future to those states where they had stashed looted national wealth and built palatial houses.

The minister said the past rulers had deliberately refrained from signing an extradition treaty with certain countries, including the UK, keeping in mind the option to escape in future to those states where they had stashed the looted national wealth and built palatial houses.

Referring to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Shibli Faraz said with the seating arrangements on stages during the public meetings, the PDM leaders seemed to be pursuing the modus operandi of ‘Banarsi Thugs’, who cheated the people with their opulent looks.

The masses had knowledge about their financial status prior to joining politics as how once bike riders did manage to become owners of land cruisers, he added.

Shibli said on the one hand a sinister alliance of opposition had emerged as the PDM just to befool the people with their lies and concocted stories and on the other, Prime Minister Imran Khan was striving hard to mitigate the financial woes being faced by the masses.

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry also expressed the hope that the government would bring Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif back to the country by January 15 next year.

Talking to a private news channel, Fawad said that Nawaz’s position is different from others because he is convicted by the court. The three-time prime minister was allowed to fly to London for medical treatment in November 2019 but was later declared an absconder by some courts in Pakistan

He hoped that the British government would take quick decision regarding the Nawaz’s case. The decision-makers in the UK are discussing to take a “hard decision” in this regard, he added.

The federal minister also said the British government is losing its image by giving shelter to looters and plunders.

The statement comes days after Prime Minister Imran Khan, addressing a gathering of his party’s volunteer force called Tiger Force, vowed to bring back the former premier and throw him in jail with other “ordinary prisoner”.

A visibly angry PM Imran derided Nawaz as “a jackal who ran away to London with its tail between its legs”.

“This is the same man who had first become a minister with the blessings of Gen (retd) Ghulam Jilani; this is the same man who had become the chief minister [Punjab] by polishing the boots of General Ziaul Haq; this is the same man who had received millions of rupees from the then ISI chief Gen (retd) [Asad] Durrani through Mehran Bank to [cobble together an alliance of rightwing parties] to contest the elections against the PPP,” Premier Imran said while referring to Nawaz’s political career.

The prime minister also criticised the PML-N supreme leader for “trying to sow discord in the military, the judiciary, and the government” in an attempt to escape accountability for his massive financial corruption”.