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February 2, 2019

Identical grounds for Sharif brothers’ bail pleas

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February 2, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The bail pleas separately submitted by the Sharif brothers in two high courts have almost identical grounds and were filed at the same time and will be heard simultaneously.

Their petitions will be heard by the high courts on February 6. However, there is one difference between their positions in the eyes of law: ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been convicted in a reference while leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif is still an accused in a case that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed against him in an accountability court.

Both Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif have argued in their independent petitions that they are suffering from serious diseases that merit bail so that they could get themselves treated outside of the prisons.

Last week, the IHC, after holding preliminary hearing on the bail application of the ex-premier, fixed February 6 as the next date of hearing ordering the NAB to submit its reply to his prayer. On Jan 30, the Lahore High Court (LHC) adjourned proceedings on the bail plea of Shahbaz Sharif for one week with the direction to the NAB to come fully prepared to give its side of the story.

A medical board earlier constituted by the Punjab government suggested treatment of Nawaz Sharif for his heart and other ailments. Later, another panel of cardiac specialists for formed, which has now sent its report to the Punjab home department with the recommendation that the former prime minister be shifted to a hospital for medical attention. It is for the Punjab government to take a decision on this determination.

The LHC expressed displeasure over non-submission of its reply by the NAB on Shahbaz Sharif’s bail request in the Ashiyana housing scheme. The two-judge LHC bench headed by Justice Malik Shehzad Ahmed was irked and took the NAB prosecutor to task for not having submitted the reply and for seeking more time with the request to adjourn the hearing for a week. Justice Malik Shehzad Ahmed observed that the NAB sought adjournment on each and every hearing and warned the prosecutor that no further postponement would be given in the case. “Shahbaz Sharif’s bail pleas might be heard, if needed, on a daily basis. Seven months have passed and we will not allow further delay.”

Shahbaz Sharif sought relief of bail on 30 grounds, including the medical reasons saying that he is more than 67 years old and has left-sided sciatica since 1994 due to which he had to exercise regularly and needed physiotherapy. Since his arrest, medical boards had examined him and his lab reports were shared with his personal doctor in Britain, who had advised further clinical examination in London. As per blood test reports, his tumour marker Chromogranin-A had been found to be elevated and a CT scan revealed new development of small but significant lesion in the lateral limb of left adrenal and thickening of the pyloric wall of the stomach. Although some of the tests had been carried out, the facility of the most important test namely “DOTA Octreotide Scan” was not available in Pakistan. His bail plea needed to be considered on compassionate and humanitarian grounds as his detention may put his life in jeopardy.

In his bail petition being heard by an IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Nawaz Sharif said he felt pain in both his arms and numbness of toes. “Given my medical history, the matter was reported to the jail superintendent who referred me for medical examination to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, and the Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital, Lahore. A special medical board was separately constituted to evaluate my health condition.”

According to the petition, the past medical history of the former premier showed that he has been suffering from Ischemic Heart Disease and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), Hypertension (HTN), T2-diabetes mellitus, and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). “On the basis of the abnormalities exhibited by the lab data, the special board constituted by the Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore has made an assessment to the effect that Nawaz Sharif has, Stage 3 CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) problem secondary to Diabetic Nephropathy and HTN; Uncontrolled HTN; Mild Proteinuria; Suboptimal T2 Diabetes Control; Metabolic Acidosis Nephrolithiasis (i.e. Kidney stones) and benign Renal cysts. In the light of these findings and recommendations, I pray for the suspension of the sentence and release on bail pending final decision of the appeal on purely medical grounds as a case of extreme hardship.”

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