Islamabad: The Pakistan government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday added the name of Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, who has been charged with corruption, to the no-fly list, barring him from leaving the country for medical treatment.
Earlier this month, the Lahore High Court granted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz — also the younger brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — permission to travel abroad once for medical treatment.
After obtaining bail, Shehbaz, 69, was about to fly to London on May 8 when an Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team at the airport stopped him from travelling on the grounds that his name had been on the provisional national identification list (PNIL), which impose a temporary bar on someone to leave the country.
Shehbaz was offloaded from Doha-bound flight on May 8.
Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said Shehbaz’s name was added to the exit control list (ECL) after approval from the federal Cabinet.
A special committee of the Interior Ministry on May 12 had proposed to the Cabinet that Shehbaz should be barred from leaving the country due to corruption cases against him.
Shehbaz wanted to go to London for a medical checkup after he was bailed out of jail last month.
The interior minister said Shehbaz had not submitted any medical documents for travelling abroad or specified the treatment for his illness.
Last week, Shehbaz had challenged the placement of his name on a travel blacklist and sought one-time permission to go abroad for medical treatment.
“I have been a cancer patient and got treated in New York and London. I could not get treatment for more than seven months as I was in jail,” the top PML-N leader said, adding in light of the medical test report conducted in jail, there was a need for immediate treatment.
Interior minister Ahmed said Shehbaz “was the guarantor for his brother Nawaz. But instead of bringing him back, he was trying to flee”.
“If Nawaz Sharif did not return then why should Shehbaz return? This is a matter of common sense,” he said in reply to a question.
Sharif has been in London since November 2019 on “medical grounds”.
The Imran Khan government has declared Sharif an absconder and cancelled his passport. Sharif left the country after the court granted him bail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was undergoing seven years imprisonment in Kot Lakhpat jail Lahore.
He was also granted four-week bail on medical grounds to have his treatment abroad. The government declared him an absconder after he failed to justify prolonging his stay in London.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also said that Shehbaz’s name has been added to the no-fly list after approval from the Cabinet and completion of legal formalities. “The relevant record has been updated in this regard,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, criticising the government’s move, PML-N leader Azam Nazir Tarar said the party will file a case of contempt of court.
“The government refused to let him (Shehbaz) go abroad despite orders by the Lahore High Court,” Tarar said.
Several PML-N leaders have been facing corruption cases, which they claim, are politically motivated.
On April 23, 2021, Shehbaz walked free from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail after about eight months behind bars in the money laundering and assets beyond means reference filed by the country”s anti-graft body.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had alleged that Shehbaz’s family had assets of around PKR 16.5 million till 1990, which increased to over PKR 7 billion in 2018 which were disproportionate to his known sources of income.