Fazl urges Nawaz to return after Zardari snub

Former PM secured conditional bail in November 2019 to travel to London on pretext of medical treatment and has since refused to return

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday held a telephonic conversation with deposed prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and urged him to return to Pakistan, reports said.

The development came a day after the opposition alliance announced to postpone the March 26 long march to Islamabad after Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) linked its resignations from the legislative assemblies with Nawaz’s return — a condition PML-N termed out of the question.

After spending a year in prison, Nawaz, 71, secured a conditional bail in November 2019 to travel to London on the pretext of medical treatment and has since refused to return.

His party insists that despite being summoned by the courts, that declared him a proclaimed offender in separate corruption trials, the former premier will only return after the completion of his medical treatment.

In the conversation with Nawaz, Fazl expressed his reservations, suggesting the former prime minister to return to the country, reports citing sources said.

Fazl said that with top PML-N leading abroad in self-exile, it was difficult to execute decisions taken by the alliance.

He said that the “bitter experience” of election for Senate chairman and deputy chairman was “also an outcome of Nawaz not being in the country”. The trust was further damaged when reports emerged claiming the PML-N MPs did not cast vote for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) candidate, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, contesting for deputy chairman slot.

The two also discussed the position adopted by the PPP with regard to en masse resignations.

Reports further said Nawaz assured Fazl of his cooperation in order to take forward the anti-government campaign through joint efforts in the future.

Both leaders also exchanged views on the political situation and the decisions taken by the opposition alliance.

NAWAZ EXPANDS ON DELAY IN MARCH:

Separately, Nawaz said that the PPP had a different view on the requirements for the upcoming long march. The PML-N supremo made these comments while responding to questions in London.

In a video shared on Twitter by a reporter, Murtaza Ali Shah, Nawaz said that the long march was all set to be held on time. He stated that the PPP had asked for time to go to the Central Executive Committee (CEC).

To a question regarding Ali Ali Zardari’s intentions, he said that he views the situation the same as the questioner who had claimed that PPP and Zardari had a plan to harm PDM to secure a deal.

GOVT READY TO ASSIST ‘EMERGENCY’ RETURN:

Meanwhile, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that the government was ready to issue an emergency traveling document to Nawaz within 24 hours if he wished to return to Pakistan.

The PML-N supremo’s passport had expired in February after the government refused to renew it in an attempt to speed up his extradition from the United Kingdom. The expired document rendered the former prime minister unable to travel anywhere on a Pakistan passport.

“If he wants to return, the government can give him permission within 72 hours,” Rasheed said at the time.

He said on Wednesday that both the government and interior ministry had never created any hurdle in the passport renewal process, claiming Nawaz himself did not approach the authorities concerned to do so.

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