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March 22, 2020

Shahbaz decides to fly home to ‘help virus victims’

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March 22, 2020

LAHORE: Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif was set to return to Pakistan late on Saturday after a four-month stay in the United Kingdom due to the “deteriorating coronavirus situation in Pakistan”, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson made the announcement as quoted by the PML-N’s official Twitter account. “Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif will return to Pakistan tonight (Saturday),” said the message in Urdu.

Speaking to Geo News after the announcement, Marriyum confirmed that the PML-N president, who was in Britain to tend to his ailing brother Nawaz Sharif, would be touching down in Islamabad late on Saturday, and that his tickets were already booked. She said Shahbaz was to fly in on a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight.

The PIA’s UK offices 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, the PIA was operating flights this weekend.

Aurangzeb said the PML-N president had taken the decision due to the “deteriorating condition of the coronavirus in Pakistan”. Sharif family sources told Geo News that Nawaz had asked Shahbaz to stay and help victims of the coronavirus and be among the masses during their time of need. Regarding Nawaz’s health, Aurangzeb said doctors had been trying to operate on the former prime minister for the past four weeks. But they have scheduled a cardiac interventional surgery for the coming week.

Earlier this month, the government wrote to the United Kingdom seeking Nawaz’s repatriation. Shahbaz had called it an “illogical and unethical” step on the part of government. He had also said the government had no legal authority to write any such letter. “This reflects [government’s] criminal intent and its nefarious designs,” he maintained.