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Petition formed to bar PM Sharif from entering Hong Kong

HONG KONG: Pakistani residents in Hong Kong have demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should be barred from the city.

An online petition has been created which had passed 1200 signatures, and will be sent to Hong Kong officials including Chief Executive of Hong Kong Mr. C Y Leung and President Legislative Council Mr. Andrew Leung Kwan-Yuen.

The petition states Nawaz Sharif’s current accusations of corruption could give the appearance of allowing “alleged criminals to seek safe haven”.

According to Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post, one of the creators of the petition said that “multiple protests” will be organised if Sharif entered Hong Kong.

PM Sharif is currently in Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International, and is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong on Tuesday and leave on Thursday. He is expected to meet the chief executive and local businessmen and join a business forum.

“Pakistani residents and every law-abiding citizen of Hong Kong demand that the director of immigration … bans Sharif from visiting Hong Kong,” reads the text of the petition launched last week.

“Allowing Sharif to enter Hong Kong … will have a damaging impact on the reputation of Hong Kong as a city that allows alleged criminals to seek safe haven.”

This is PM Sharif’s first official visit abroad since the Supreme Court formed a six-member Joint Investigation Team to probe charges levelled against him and his sons.

The commission has 60 days to complete the investigation. The Supreme Court issued the much-awaited verdict in the Panama Papers case on April 20 calling a thorough investigation into the wealth of the Sharif family.

“The community is deeply concerned about this visit and about what is happening in Pakistan,” said the organiser of the petition Yasir Naveed, a mechanical engineer from Pakistan, who has lived in the city for more than a decade.

“We want to show that Pakistani people are not asleep and that we stand against corruption. We want to send a strong message to any corrupt leader or person in Pakistan that Hong Kong is not a safe haven.”

Naveed said: “Pakistan’s prime minister should be very clear on why he is coming to Hong Kong and Hong Kong officials have to be aware he is under investigation for corruption charges.”

He said that he would help organise protests to “raise awareness” of the issue if Sharif was allowed to enter the city.

“Even if the entire world will start investing in Pakistan, that would only fill the pockets of the corrupt leaders. The opportunities will not go down to grassroots people,” said Naveed.

There are more than 30,000 Pakistanis living in Hong Kong. Naveed said he is working on the campaign with 10 other Hong Kong-based Pakistani citizens. He said they hoped that other members of the diaspora would organise similar movements whenever Sharif tried to visit foreign countries.

The two leaders are expected to discuss trade initiatives and cultural cooperation and address One Belt One Road Pakistan Investment Forum attended by 80 to 100 companies.

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