- PM Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan onboard special PIA flight along with his family, London camp office personnel, says he is active as before heart surgery
- Asks opposition to shun politics of sit-ins, says ready to face any challenges thrown his way
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned home Saturday evening along with 24 people, his family members and London camp office, after spending more than a month and a half recuperating from an open-heart surgery in Britain.
The premier landed at Lahore airport’s Haj Terminal in a special Boeing-777 plane of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) amid stringent security arrangements and later left for his residence in Jati Umra, Raiwind in a helicopter.
Government officials, senior journalists and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders, including Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif greeted the premier upon his arrival.
The prime minister – who went to Britain on May 22 and remained hospitalised till June 7 after undergoing three cardiac procedures on May 31 – has called a meeting of senior PML-N leadership on Sunday (today) to discuss the country’s overall political situation, especially the deadlock with the opposition over the Panama leaks investigation.
Talking to media after his arrival, PM Sharif advised the opposition to shun the politics of sit-ins, saying it would not provide any solution [to the political situation]. He went on to say he was ready to face all sorts of challenges, before urging the opposition to be of service to the country, in an apparent reference to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) threats of street agitation over the Panama leaks.
The premier also thanked God Almighty for granting him health, and assured the nation that he was active as before [despite the heart surgery].
Speaking to media at his London residence earlier in the day, the prime minister said by the grace of Almighty Allah his doctors had declared his health satisfactory. He also thanked the entire nation for their prayers for his early recovery and good health.
Asked for his comments on humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi’s death, the prime minister said, “Edhi Sahib was a great human being who served humanity selflessly.” He said he was saddened along with the whole Pakistani nation on his sad demise. The PM said that Edhi’s services to the nation had no match, adding that any award that should be given to the late philanthropist should be given after making a consensus.
Later, the premier left his London residence for the airport to board a special PIA flight for Pakistan.
Since a dedicated aircraft had been deputed to transport the PM and his London camp office back to Pakistan, the PTI protested the move, demanding that the flight operation be carried out at the premier’s own expense.
A statement issued by the national flag carrier said, “Now that the PM has recovered after his surgery and is allowed to travel, the whole camp office has to be shifted back to Pakistan. On PIA’s regular flights, so many seats were not available, due to which the only option was to depute a dedicated aircraft.”
PANAMA CRISIS AT HOME:
PM Sharif’s visit to London took place amid heightened demands from the opposition to conduct a thorough judicial probe of his alleged offshore wealth.
The PM underwent an open-heart surgery in a London hospital on May 31. The need for the surgery arose after the premier went through a cardiac procedure called Atrial Fibrillation Ablation in 2011, “during which certain complications occurred resulting in perforation of heart”, Maryam Nawaz earlier told the media.
Many had called it a politically imprudent decision to leave the country at a time when the opposition was exerting pressure on the government in the wake of Panama leaks. However, a PML-N officer-bearer had said that Nawaz’s medical condition necessitated the visit.
The government had asked Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali to form a commission to probe the leaks, but the latter called for developing mutually agreed terms of reference (ToRs) before the body was formed.
On May 18, the government and opposition leaders agreed to form a 12-member parliamentary committee — including six members each from both sides — that will draft the ToRs for the proposed commission to be headed by the country’s top judge for holding an inquiry against those owning offshore companies as revealed in the Panama leaks.
Both government and opposition parties had agreed that besides concentrating on the individuals named in the Panama Papers, the committee will also go after those who received kickbacks and commissions, as well as those who had their loans written off illegally.
On May 31, the committee ended its fourth meeting in a stalemate and failed to evolve consensus on the issue.
According to independent observers, the committee may not reach consensus because both sides are poles apart as far as their expectations are concerned.
Last week, PTI Secretary General Jahangir Khan Tareen said the party’s preparations for launching a “massive protest movement” over the Panama leaks soon after Eidul Fitr were in full swing.