A PAKISTANI court has given former prime minister Nawaz Sharif a “last chance to surrender” and appear before it on September 10 for hearing in a corruption case.
Sharif, 70, has been in London since November last year after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treating a heart disease and an immune system disorder.
The three-time premier was sentenced to seven years in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case, which involved properties in London that were allegedly purchased with ill-gotten wealth.
A two-member special bench of the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday (1) heard the petitions against the sentences of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia Steel Mills cases, the Dawn newspaper reported.
“We are not passing the final verdict as of yet. We are giving you [Nawaz] last chance to surrender before the next hearing. Nawaz Sharif should appear before the court in any case,” the bench said.
Sharif’s lawyer, Khawaja Harris, said the former premier was not medically fit to return to Pakistan, and a related petition was pending in the Lahore High Court.
Further hearing of the case was adjourned till September 10. Appeals of Maryam and Captain Safdar would be heard on September 23, according to the Express Tribune.
The Pakistan government has already declared Sharif an “absconder”, and approached the UK government for his extradition.
Shahzad Akbar, adviser to the prime minister on accountability and interior affairs, last week noted that Sharif’s four-week bail on medical grounds had expired in December last year.
The government would task the National Accountability Bureau to pursue Sharif’s extradition, he said.
In a recent interview with ARY News, Prime Minister Imran Khan said his government “regretted” the decision to lift the ban on Sharif.
In May, a picture of Sharif having tea at a London cafe along with his family went viral on social media, sparking a debate on the seriousness of his health condition.
The government came under further criticism when last week Sharif”s photos surfaced online, showing him strolling in a street, prompting calls from within the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to bring him back.