ISLAMABAD, Dec 4 (APP): As the UK court of appeal upheld a Home Office decision of canceling 10-year multiple-entry visit visas of Malik Riaz and his son, different circles are questioning the rationale of not invoking the same principles against convicted PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif staying in London.
The UK court judgment noted that the Home Office’s conclusion that Malik Riaz and his son Ahmed Ali Riaz had been involved with corruption and financial/commercial misconduct was founded on their involvement in the affairs of Bahria Town.
The Home Office’s decision to cancel their 10-year multiple entry visa was taken after the top immigration body considered the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) investigation and settlement of £190 million with Malik Riaz in 2019; Supreme Court judgements concerning Bahria Town in May 2018 and March 2019; a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report probing money deposited by Bahria Town into fake accounts and a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference filed in April 2019 linking Bahria Town to an investigation into Karachi Land Developments.
However, considering the very principles, the people in Pakistan are questioning the “double standards” of the UK system to punish one party while allowing Nawaz Sharif to live freely there who was also convicted for corruption.
“What hypocrisy! Convicted criminal Nawaz Shareef is happily living in the UK but … Malik Riaz and his son are not allowed to stay in the UK. I protest to the UK govt. against this discrimination,” said a Twitter user Maheen Brown.
The Twitterati believed that the reason behind judgment against the real estate tycoon was that he had most of his investments in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is allowed to live there freely because he had invested billions of dollars in the UK economy.
Khawar Qureshi with a Twitter ID of Bhanwar said Malik Riaz cannot enter England anymore. UK court decides because “He might” be involved in money laundering. “But U.K. will allow Nawaz Shareef to stay because “He definitely” is involved in money laundering. Moral: You have to be proven money launder to stay.”
According to the Home Office, an exclusion decision was a personal decision of the Secretary of State, on the ground that it is conducive to the public good. This means that it is undesirable to admit the person to the UK because they pose a threat to UK society.
In a case, instigated by the Panama Papers, the court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister over corruption and money laundering charges and banned him from parliament for life. However, after getting bail on medical grounds, the PML-N leader flew to London for his treatment since November 2019, in what his political opponents say was just a tactic to avoid criminal cases against him here in Pakistan.
In December last year, the Islamabad High Court had also declared Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender in two cases — Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia reference.
“UK court rejects visa of accused Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz on corruption case but a convicted criminal Nawaz Sharif is still living in London freely. Why this double standard?” questioned AH Farooqui on Twitter.
Another netizen Me Abdullah drew some different analysis and said, “May be Malik Riaz is not so important for UK govt like Nawaz Sharif & Ishaq Dar otherwise both these characters are million times more corrupt & king of money launderers.”
He said the Supreme Court of Pakistan had branded Nawaz Sharif as Sicilian Mafia.
Hina Safdar also drew attention towards MQM leader Altaf Hussian facing multiple criminal charges in Pakistan and also staying in the UK for years with no action against him.
“Malik Riaz is corrupt & cannot stay in UK but Nawaz Sharif Crook & The Gangster Altaf Bhai can,” she commented.
Another Twitter user Rao Saab commented, “Nawaz Sharif is one of the biggest investors in UK & illegal money is the main pillar of British economy since colonial era.”
He viewed that the UK would never kick out Nawaz Sharif. Though, controversial and doubtful but major investments of Malik Riaz are in Pakistan, he added.
“I would still accept Malik Riaz . His wealth is in Pakistan and he is doing business in Pakistan on the other hand the famous thief Nawaz Sharif looted Pakistan and has all the money in UK,” said another user Zabi.
Zabi opined that Malik Riaz wouldn’t have got his visa denied if he had kept his money in the UK.
APP Digital Report by Ishtiaq Ahmed