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November 14, 2019

Deadlock persists over Nawaz’s travel abroad

Top Story

November 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Wednesday accepted the application of opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif to permit former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for four weeks for treatment subject to submission of an indemnity bond of Rs 7 billion, but the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) rejected the conditional permission.

PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb termed the government’s decision political revenge. She said the party supremo had already fulfilled all the legal aspects and deposited surety bonds against his bail in court. Aurangzeb said if anything happened to Sharif, the government would be held responsible.

Earlier, Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Nasim flanked by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar announced the government’s decision at a press conference here. He said it was a one-time permission only for four weeks.

The minister said the PML-N supremo would have to return to the country after recovering from illness as he was a convict in a corruption case and under trial in another one. He added the government was seeking the indemnity bond as a precaution to respond to the court’s queries in case Sharif did not return to the country.

Barrister Nasim said keeping in view Sharif’s medical reports of the Sharif Medical City and the medical board of the Punjab government, the sub-committee considered the application for removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) on humanitarian grounds.

He, however, clarified the assurances being sought from the Sharif family in that regard were a legal requirement, which should not be used for political point scoring. The Sharif family had a right to reject the government’s decision or to challenge it in a court of law, he added.

The minister said the duration for Sharif’s stay abroad could be extended subject to his health condition according to the law and regulations. He cited some court precedents, where the convicts were given one-time permission to go abroad for treatment after taking indemnity bonds side by side surety bonds.

The Sharif family had been asked to provide the indemnity bond and not the surety bond, which was the prerogative of courts only, he clarified.Barrister Nasim said the country where the PML-N supremo would get treatment, would also be intimated about the conditions set for his travel abroad.

Responding to a question about General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who was allowed to travel abroad for treatment, the minister said he had not been convicted in any case, while Sharif was convicted in a corruption case.

Special Assistant Shahzad Akbar said the decision to permit the PML-N leader to go abroad for treatment was taken purely on merit and according to the law.It would be a one-time permission and his name would not be removed from the ECL as he was convicted in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills graft reference and was facing other cases, including Chuadhry Sugar Mill, he added.

According to the Section 2 sub-section 3 of the ECL 1981, he said any convicted person’s name could not be removed from the ECL. However, it provided jurisdiction to the federal government to decide the matter after going through the merits of the case, he added.

PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Wednesday the government was playing a dangerous game with the former prime minister’s health. The conditional departure set by the government was unconstitutional, she tweeted.

She said an emergency meeting of the PML-N supremo’s doctors had been called to consult on the recent situation. She added so far Sharif had been given steroids twice. She said the government had no idea about the dangers faced by the PML-N leader.

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