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Pakistan

March 21, 2020

Shehbaz Sharif departs for Pakistan 'to be with people' amid coronavirus crisis

Pakistan

Sat, Mar 21, 2020

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Saturday that party President Shehbaz Sharif, who was abroad to tend to his ailing brother former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, will return to Pakistan tonight.

The PML-N spokesperson made the announcement as quoted by the PML-N Twitter account.

"Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif will return to Pakistan tonight," it said.

Speaking to Geo News, Marriyum said that the PML-N president had taken the decision due to the deteriorating condition of the coronavirus in Pakistan.

Marriyum said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will undergo a cardiac intervention surgery next week.

Sharif family sources revealed that Nawaz had asked Shehbaz to stay on help victims of the coronavirus and be among the masses during their time of need.

The former Punjab chief minister is in London and is said to be receiving medical treatment. Shehbaz brought his brother Nawaz to London last year for medical treatment after the former prime minister was allowed to fly abroad.

Shehbaz meets mother, Nawaz before departing for Islamabad

Pictures of the PML-N president surfaced on social media in which he can be seen embracing his mother in London as he prepared to leave for Islamabad.

"Coronavirus has wreaked havoc in Pakistan and the world," said Shehbaz. "I am coming back to Pakistan to be with the people."

The PML-N president said that he was in London for his brother Nawaz's medical treatment. However, Nawaz told him to return to Pakistan as that should be his priority.

Photo by author

"I have decided to return to the country after Nawaz gave me permission to do so," he said. "I am leaving for Pakistan today."

He said that as Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly, it was his obligatory for him to return to Pakistan as soon as he could. 

PIA UK confirms Shehbaz's flight

The PIA UK confirmed the PML-N president's flight to Pakistan. The airline said that usually, PIA flights do not operate on Saturdays. However, due to the coronavirus and the ensuing commotion, this weekend the PIA was operating flights.

Pakistan on Saturday announced it was suspending international flights for two weeks owing to the coronavirus.

According to the government advisory shared by Moeed W Yousuf, the special assistant to the premier on national security, the suspension will be effective from March 21 to April 4.

The premier's aide on security, while calling it a difficult decision, said that the ban is temporary and it does not include cargo and diplomats in Pakistan.

“The government is taking this seriously. All our missions have been issued directions that whatever they can do to help they should do,” he said.