A Pakistani court on Thursday directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to execute a non-bailable arrest warrant against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a 34-year land allotment case, according to media reports.
During the plot allotment hearing, Model Town Police Inspector Bashir Ahmed told Lahore Accountability Court’s Judge Asad Ali that Sharif was not at his residence. Last month, the accountability court had issued a bailable arrest warrant and served summons at all known addresses of the three-time prime minister, who is currency in London for medical treatment.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMN-N) leader Ata Tarar confirmed to the court on Thursday that the 70-year-old party chief Sharif had been abroad for six months, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Responding to this, Special Prosecutor Harris Qureshi, appearing on behalf of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), asked the court to issue a non-bailable arrest (NBA) warrant against Sharif.
The court issued the NBA warrant and directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to execute the arrest through the Pakistan High Commission in London, the report added.
Jang/Geo media group owner Mir Shakilur Rehman is also facing charges in the case and was arrested in March. The court on Thursday extended the judicial remand of the veteran journalist, The Nation newspaper reported.
The NBA warrant against Sharif comes two days after the Islamabad High Court gave a “last chance” to the former prime minister to surrender and appear before it on September 10 in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills graft case.
Sharif 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.
The Pakistan government has already declared Sharif an “absconder” and approached the UK government for his extradition. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar last week said Sharif’s four-week bail on medical grounds had expired in December last year.
Akbar had said the government would task the National Accountability Bureau to pursue Sharif’s extradition. 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.