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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has been asked to stop the authorities from issuing a diplomatic passport to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in the United Kingdom.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah will hear the petition on April 18.

Advocate Naeem Haider Panjutha, filed a petition, referring to the media reports that former premier Nawaz was being issued a diplomatic passport on the instructions of the newly-elected PM, Shehbaz Sharif.

He stated that it was mandatory for all convicts to surrender before the law, while Nawaz had “yet to surrender before the law”, while “the federal government is hurriedly trying to issue [a] diplomatic passport to him,” he claimed.

He prayed before the court to prevent the issuance of a diplomatic passport to Nawaz, direct the Establishment Division secretary to arrest him immediately upon his arrival in Pakistan and produce him before a court.

The petitioner contended that as Nawaz was “a court absconder who was convicted by National Accountability Court for corruption ... it is violative of law, a mockery of the justice system and disgrace to the nation if a diplomatic passport is issued to a convict”.

The “issuance of a diplomatic passport to a convict is tantamount to bestowing respect, state protocols and dignity to a convict and if the convict is a court absconder it becomes a disgrace to the entire judicial system of the country,” he said, adding the act was also “against the spirit of the Constitution and against the fundamental rights whereby it has been guaranteed to every citizen that they will be treated equally”.

Moreover, the petition stated, the country’s courts had held that a fugitive would lose all rights a normal person was entitled to, adding that Article 25 of the Constitution had set clear standards against discrimination against citizens.

“And all the ordinary citizens will be discriminated if a convict is issued a diplomatic passport which has so many privileges and immunities, far more than the ordinary passport.”

The petitioner further argued that the “illegal and unlawful” act of the interior and foreign affairs secretaries of issuing a diplomatic passport to a convict and court absconder “is not sustainable in the eyes of law”.

“The honorable superior courts have held in a number of cases that public servants are not duty-bound to implement or obey the illegal directions of the superiors and whoever acts illegal just to please a superior will solely be responsible for that illegal act.”

The petitioner maintained that diplomatic passports were issued to the heads of states, highest officials and dignitaries, and that the holders of these passports enjoyed certain immunities and privileges outlined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.

He cited Passport Rules 2021, saying these limit the issuance of diplomatic passports to a certain class of state officials so long as they held office. Moreover, he said, according to the rules, persons entitled to get the passport are to apply for the same with the relevant authority and furnish three copies of their photographs.

“No authority other than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will, in any circumstances, issue authorisation for diplomatic passports,” the petitioner said, adding that the process for the issuance of the passport had not been followed in Nawaz’s case.

The process, he said, “cannot be exempted or bypassed and ignored merely on the ground that the applicant is a brother of the prime minister”.

He also pointed out that Nawaz had passed derogatory remarks against the serving military and judicial officials at public rallies, which caused “disgrace, disrespect, injury and insult” to the Pakistan Army and the judiciary. “It is also pertinent to mention that action is yet to be taken by the law enforcement agencies for the remarks mentioned above,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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