Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar has said that the law enforcement agencies will decide about arresting former premier Nawaz Sharif upon his return to the country from self-imposed exile next month.
Kakar made the remarks during an interview with SAMAA TV on Wednesday when asked about any action against 73-year-old Nawaz upon his arrival in Pakistan.
In February 2020, Nawaz was declared an absconder. Later in the same year, an accountability court declared him a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana vehicles reference.
“The law enforcement agencies (LEAs) will decide this matter in light of the law. If they think he (Nawaz) should be chained then they will adopt that path and vice versa,” Kakar said when the host asked whether Nawaz would be handcuffed or not on his return.
He said that the leadership of LEAs would decide the issue of his arrest to the best of their ability.
“I reiterate that the leadership of legal and law enforcement agencies is present. Whatever they decide, whether they send him (Nawaz) behind bars or allow freedom of movement, it will be the decision of the leadership of the judicial process and law enforcement,” he said.
However, the prime minister said that the government could intervene if it felt that either Nawaz or LEAs were defying the law.
On Tuesday, Nawaz's younger brother and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif said in London that his brother would return to Pakistan from the UK on October 21 to lead the party's political campaign in the upcoming elections.
Nawaz left for London in November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him four-week permission to go abroad for his treatment. But he never returned to Pakistan where he was convicted of corruption and jailed.
He was convicted in the Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield corruption cases in 2018. He was serving a seven-year imprisonment at Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia Mills case when he was allowed to proceed to London in 2019 on "medical grounds".
Shehbaz has previously said that Nawaz will be the next prime minister if the party returns to power in the general elections. In 2016, Nawaz stepped down as the prime minister after the Supreme Court disqualified him for life for concealing assets. His appeals against the conviction are currently pending in the relevant courts.
He was disqualified by the Supreme Court in 2017. In 2018, he became ineligible to hold public office for life after a Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers case. Nawaz is considered a crowd-puller and a major force to bring voters to the polling stations.