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November 24, 2020

Punjab govt agrees to release Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz on 5-day parole


Tue, Nov 24, 2020

LAHORE: The government of Punjab on Tuesday green-signalled a request to release PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza, on a five-day parole ahead of the funeral of the former chief minister's mother, Begum Shamim Akhtar.

Geo News reported on Tuesday citing sources at the Ministry of Interior that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had earlier forwarded a request for the temporary release of Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz to the provincial cabinet for approval.

That request had been earlier submitted by the PML-N to the deputy commissioner Lahore, who has the power to approve the release for 8-10 hours. The party had asked the government to release Shahbaz and Hamza on parole for 14 days. 

Sources had earlier revealed to Geo News that a draft was prepared for the release on parole for five days. The News/via

Moreover, the release on parole would come into effect once Begum Shamim Akhtar's body reaches Pakistan after clearance from the Westminster Magistrates' Court coroner and a confirmation from London — expected in a few days.

Earlier, sources had informed Geo News that a draft summary had been prepared for the duo's release on parole.

The PML-N president and his son would be let out of jail on parole with the cabinet's approval a day before the body arrives in Pakistan.

'Deliberately politicising the issue'

Earlier today, Information Minister Shibli Faraz had clarified that the government had placed no restrictions either on Nawaz Sharif or his family members, meaning that they could attend Begum Shamim Akhtar's funeral.

The minister had said Nawaz Sharif and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, as well as former finance minister Ishaq Dar were free to return to Pakistan; however, he warned them against politicising the matter.

"They can visit [Pakistan] and attend the funeral of late Begum Shamim Akhtar and get sawab-e-darain [reward]," Faraz had said on Twitter.

"The propaganda of state repression is deliberately politicising the issue. Who are you fooling," Faraz had asked rhetorically.

In addition, earlier today, Punjab Prisons Minister Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan had said a decision on the PML-N father-son duo's release would be made once a date for the body to be repatriated to Pakistan was confirmed.

Chohan had said the government stood "with Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, and Hamza Shahbaz" in these trying times. "We are not engaging — and will not engage — in any sort of politics on this matter.

"We will fully and completely accommodate them and will cooperate for them to fulfill all religious, traditional, and familial funeral and burial rites," the provincial minister had added.

Clearance from London coroner awaited

Begum Shamim had passed away aged 89 on Sunday. She had developed a severe chest infection and was suffering from an advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease.

The condition of Nawaz Sharif's mother had deteriorated a week before her death and she was unable to regain her health due to her old age.

Begum Shamim Akhtar was under treatment at a London hospital and her body was kept at the Avenfield Apartments where she was staying with her son.

The body had been transferred to the London Central Mosque's mortuary late Sunday night after the coroner and local police spent about three hours at the Sharif family's apartment to complete paperwork to determine the cause of death and other legal requirements.

As per the United Kingdom's coronavirus guidelines, the number of participants at the funeral is limited to 30.

The Sharif family was also waiting for a repatriation clearance from the Westminster Magistrates' Court coroner in order for the body of Nawaz Sharif’s mother to be taken to Pakistan for burial in Jati Umrah.