Former leader has been in London for nearly a year after temporary release for 8 weeks from prison on medical grounds.
By Tom Burgis in London :-
Priti Patel is “duty bound” to deport Nawaz Sharif, the former Pakistan prime minister, to serve his jail sentence for corruption, his successor’s government has told the UK home secretary in a letter seen by the Financial Times.
The fallen ruler has been residing in London for nearly a year after being temporarily released from prison in Pakistan and given permission to leave the country for an eight-week trip for medical treatment.
The demand from Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, follows a pledge of tough treatment for foreign criminals under new post-Brexit immigration rules by Ms Patel, a member of the UK’s Conservative government noted for her hard-line stance on border controls.
Mr 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”, Mr Khan’s adviser, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, wrote to Ms Patel on October 5.
After the Panama Papers revealed hidden assets belonging to Mr Sharif’s family, he resigned as prime minister in 2017. The following year a Pakistan court sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment for corruption. He has claimed that this and other corruption cases against him are politically motivated.
In November 2019 he flew to London after the Pakistan authorities granted him leave to travel abroad for eight weeks to seek treatment for various conditions. He sought an extension of his temporary release but the Pakistan authorities refused on the grounds that he had offered inadequate medical evidence and ordered Mr Sharif to return home.
Mr Sharif, who did not respond to a request for comment, remains in London, from where he has broadcast attacks on Mr Khan’s government.
According to records submitted to the Pakistan authorities, he has given as his London address the very flat on London’s opulent Park Lane that led to his downfall. His family’s ownership of the flat was exposed by the leak of secret files from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.
The letter to Ms Patel urges her to use her “extensive powers” to deport Mr Sharif, arguing she is “duty bound” to do so. It cites immigration rules that criminals sentenced to four years or more must be refused leave to remain in the UK. A Pakistan court has issued a warrant for Mr Sharif’s arrest, the letter adds.
A Pakistan official said the UK had not yet formally responded. The Home Office declined to comment.
“Foreign politicians with convictions relating to corruption should not enjoy impunity in Britain. Nor should their unexplained wealth, stashed in luxury London properties, fall out of the reach of law enforcement,” said Daniel Bruce, head of Transparency International UK.
“The UK government should work constructively with democratic countries such as Pakistan to uphold the rule of law. Action should also be taken to seize and return illicit assets held here in Britain in order to deliver justice for the victims of corruption. Failure to act on cases such as this, earns the UK an unwelcome reputation as a safe haven for dirty money.”
Additional reporting by Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad and Stephanie Findlay in New Delhi