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Govt seeks Rs7bn surety bond to allow Nawaz to travel abroad

Condition will be subject to Nawaz Sharif or Shehbaz Sharif submitting an indemnity bond

By Web Desk
November 13, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The government has allowed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment for four weeks, said Law Minister Farogh Naseem, on Wednesday. 

"Keeping in mind adverse critical medical condition, Nawaz Sharif will be given four-week long, one-time permission to travel abroad for medical treatment," federal minister Farogh Naseem told reporters in Islamabad.

READ MORECabinet members who opposed Nawaz Sharif's travel abroad

"This permission will be subject to Nawaz Sharif or Shehbaz Sharif submitting an indemnity bond to the tune of roughly Rs7billion to Rs7.5 billion, to the satisfaction of additional secretary to the Ministry of Interior."

Naseem said that according to doctors, Nawaz had suffered a stroke. He said that this was a one-time permission. 

"The names of convicted persons are not taken out from the ECL," he said. "This is a one-time permission."

READ MORE: What exactly is an indemnity bond?

Naseem said that anytime today (Wednesday) the interior ministry could grant permission to Nawaz to go abroad for medical treatment. He said that the decision had been taken keeping in mind Nawaz's serious medical condition. 

"It is the right of the government to ask for bail," he said. "This is not being done for political reasons."

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability (Minister of State) said that the government knew about the situation of Nawaz's health. 

"It must be kept in mind that this is a mega corruption case and Nawaz has been convicted in it," he said. "There are other case whose investigations are being conducted. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that Nawaz returns to the country."

Naseem said that the only purpose of the surety bond was to ensure that Nawaz would return to the country. 

Akbar hoped that the decision of the subcommittee would not be viewed as a political one. 

In response to a question, Akbar said that the government had not reached an agreement or deal with the Sharif family. 

"If we had arrived at a deal with them, you wouldn't even know about it," said Akbar. "All arrangements would have taken place overnight."

Naseem said that if Nawaz's health does not improve after four weeks then a request can be made to the government to prolong his stay abroad. 

Surety bonds have no legal value: PML-N

PML-N's Muhammad Zubair said that the government was playing politics as the move to allow conditional permission to the former prime minister held no legal value. 

"They are playing politics over this decision," he said. 

Zubair said that Nawaz was a political leader and his decisions would have political implications for the country. 

"Its not so simple--give money and go abroad," he said. "The PML-N gave told everyone about its stance yesterday about the decision of the subcommittee. We don't think these surety bonds have any legal value."

In response to a question, Zubair criticised Law Minister Farogh Naseem, stating that he had not asked for surety bonds when General (r) Pervaiz Musharraf had requested the courts to allow him to go abroad for medical treatment. 

"Was he asking for surety bonds back then as Musharraf's lawyer?" he asked. 

Legal expert Imran Shafiq said that there was no precedent of an indemnity bond in criminal law. 

"Indemnity bonds are issued in civil cases where one party agrees to make good the loss of another party in the scenario that the loss occurs," he said. "There is no precedent of an indemnity bond in a criminal case."

He said that it was strange how the government had said that it was allowing Nawaz to go abroad  on humanitarian grounds but on the other hand, was negating itself on the same. 

Annoyed Nawaz refuses to go abroad

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif got annoyed after the government gave him a 'conditional permission' to leave the country. 

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif got annoyed over the demand of the government to deposit surety bonds and refused to go abroad to get medical treatment for his critical ailments, sources told The News. 

Law Minister Farogh Naseem was presiding over a meeting of the cabinet subcommittee that has been tasked by the Prime Minister Imran Khan to decide the case of Nawaz Sharif regarding the Exit Control List (ECL).

Related: Nawaz Sharif refuses to leave as govt asks for billions

Sources said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Atta Tarar was representing his party in the meeting. "No one invited me, I have come here to get an update," he was quoted by the sources as saying.

Earlier it was reported that the committee has finalised the recommendations and is due to send its report to Prime Minister Imran Khan today.

On Tuesday, the Federal Cabinet agreed to grant permission to the PML-N supremo for his treatment abroad on condition of surety deposit.

The PML-N, after deliberations, refused to accept the government’s demand, saying they had already met all the requirements set by the court for Nawaz Sharif’s bail and termed the condition unconstitutional.

More: Seeking bonds from Nawaz Sharif unjustified, say top lawyers

The ailing former prime minister’s name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) last August to prevent him from leaving Pakistan, after he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption. The conviction was later suspended by a high court, yet Sharif’s name remained on the no-fly list.

Last month, the Islamabad High Court granted bail to Nawaz on humanitarian grounds, as his health deteriorated. Soon after, on November 6, Sharif’s younger brother submitted an application to the ministry of interior to have the ex-premier’s name removed from the ECL.

The government-appointed medical board and Sharif’s doctors agree that the former prime minister needs to undergo tests that are not available in Pakistan.

The final decision of whether or not Sharif will be allowed to leave the country now rests with the federal cabinet.