Nawaz’s passport renewal delayed
* PML asks Musharraf to delay decision ‘indefinitely’
By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday delayed its decision to renew former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his wife Kulsoom Nawaz’s passports.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) information secretary Siddiqul Farooq said the Pakistan counsellor general in Jeddah informed Nawaz that a final decision on his application would be announced on Saturday.
Earlier, the consulate told Capt (r) Safdar, the former prime minister’s son-in-law, that a decision on the renewal of the passports would be made on Wednesday. The counsellor general added that Nawaz’s request was forwarded to the Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministries for their approval.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) asked President General Pervez Musharraf to order authorities concerned that the former prime minister’s application for passports’ renewal should not be entertained. Sources told Daily Times that the PML and its allies requested the president to put the matter on hold for an indefinite period because “time was not ripe to take such a decision”.
Sources said PML president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain met President Musharraf twice and told him that most coalition leaders were worried about the renewal of Nawaz’s passport. Coalition leaders argued that renewing Nawaz’s passport would hint at a “Sharif-Musharraf” deal, adding that any relaxation to the former prime minister would have a negative impact on the upcoming local council elections.
Although the government has denied any ‘deal’ with the former prime minister, it did not say whether or not it would renew Nawaz’s passport. Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao and Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed have said Nawaz’s passport would be renewed on merit. Sharif applied for the renewal of his passport in 2002 but the counsellor general in Jeddah refused to accept his application.