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January 1, 2018

Nawaz ‘asylum’ story by UK daily termed ‘wishful’ creation

Top Story

January 1, 2018

LONDON: A report in The Times that Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would escape a corruption trial and “be allowed to live in exile under a potential deal being brokered by Saudi Arabia” is “rubbish” and “wishful thinking”, a source in the Sharif family has maintained.

On Saturday, The Times, published from London, claimed sensationally that Nawaz Sharif “was ready to quit active politics, without facing prosecution” cases but The Times story carried factual inaccuracies and a conspiracy theory.

A source close to Nawaz Sharif said that The Times “has been sold someone’s wishes presented as facts and exclusive information but the fact is this news is nothing more than the figment of someone’s imagination and wishes”.

The Times story claimed that Nawaz Sharif “requires permission to leave Pakistan” without checking that Nawaz has been frequently travelling to and from Pakistan since his disqualification and there is no bar on his travels and he’s not on the Exit Control List (ECL) of the country. The story failed to mention that prosecution against Nawaz has been going on for many months and he has regularly appeared before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The story suggested that Nawaz was involved in a standoff with Pakistan’s military and said that Saudi Arabia “appears ready to intervene in the stand-off between the head of Pakistan’s longest ruling political dynasty and the military establishment”.

Pakistan military has consistently denied involvement in politics establishing that Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification was ordered by the Supreme Court. Nawaz Sharif and PML-N have hinted at the involvement of “individuals” who had a role in campaign against Nawaz Sharif but the former PM has not blamed the military at any stage.

The Times story claimed that Nasser Khan Janjua, the national security adviser acting as an intermediary between the military and the government, confirmed he had a meeting with Nawaz Sharif on Thursday at his home in Lahore. On Sunday, news emerged that Nasser Janjua had held no meeting with Sharif and reports of such a meeting were only speculation.

The Times report claimed that the Saudis are “indicating that they await a final sign-off from the Pakistani military” but a source said that the report had “tried to create facts out of wishes”.

It’s understood that The Times received complaints over the report. A spokesman for The Times said that its “editor for the international and Pakistan related stories was away on holidays”.

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