The chief spokesperson for the Pakistani government, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, has said that the decision to remove former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from the no-fly list will be taken in light of recommendations of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the medical board.
“The government itself does not place any individual’s name on the ECL (exit control list). Names are placed on the ECL on the recommendations given by the NAB and the courts,” she said. “Now that an application has been filed for the name to be removed, the same process is being followed.”
“Hopefully, we will receive the NAB’s recommendations soon. The NAB is the plaintiff in this case, he (Sharif) is a suspect in [a case being probed by] the NAB and was convicted by an accountability court,” the special assistant to the prime minister on information told the media after her hearing in the Islamabad High Court in a contempt case.
“Secondly, the recommendations attached with the application filed are made by a medical board of Sharif Medical City. The government does not take decisions in light of directions from a private medical board … it is important to take the opinion of the government’s medical board.”
Awan said that reports from the NAB and the medical board were delayed due to the weekend, and added that a review committee in the law ministry would “analyse” the opinions of both bodies, after which the matter would be forwarded to the cabinet.
Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb has expressed concern over the delay in removing Sharif from the ECL.
In a statement, she said that the medical board formed by the government had already recommended that the former prime minister be sent abroad for treatment as soon as possible.
Aurangzeb said that the medical board had also recommended sending him abroad following a meeting last night.
She said that once Sharif’s name is removed from the ECL, other arrangements, such as arranging an air ambulance and sending the premier abroad, will start.
The PML-N spokesperson said that the delay in removing Sharif’s name from the ECL poses a threat to his life.
Additionally, the former premier’s personal physician, Dr Adnan Khan, had warned that any delay in sending the former premier abroad could increase the risk to his health.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid said that an application had been submitted to the ministry of interior to permit Sharif to go abroad for treatment.
Following this, the interior ministry had written to the health ministry, asking them to get the opinion of the medical board.
In response to this, the board said that they had written a discharge summary and had provided all the details of the tests that needed to be carried out, adding that they [the interior ministry] should act as they find suitable.
However, the interior ministry said they wanted a detailed report, particularly regarding whether Sharif should be sent abroad or not.
Rashid said that the board met last night, and based on their analysis, they feel that because the former premier’s condition has not stabilised, and that there may be tests that cannot be done in Pakistan, they recommend that he should be sent abroad.
She added that the health ministry had written to the medical board informing them that they had found some shortfalls in the report and thus could not send it to the interior ministry.
They had told the board to provide details of “each test or intervention required, with risk factor involved to be specifically mentioned”.
The provincial health minister said that they had asked the board about which tests can be conducted in Pakistan’s public sector hospitals, and which ones cannot.
Additionally, they asked which tests can be sent abroad and why Sharif is a high-risk patient.
In response to a question regarding whether there was pressure on the medical board, Rashid said: “Being a doctor myself, when I read the report, I felt that it was insufficient.
“We have not put any sort of political pressure on anyone. I think the board is completely independent … you can ask any board member.”
Sharif was rushed from Kot Lakhpat jail to the hospital last month after his personal physician, Dr Khan, raised the alarm over his deteriorating health.
Doctors have been struggling to bring his platelet count – that had dropped to dangerous levels – back to normal.
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif had last week submitted a request to the interior ministry as well as the NAB for the removal of his brother’s name from the ECL so that the former prime minister could travel abroad for medical treatment.
Sharif has been diagnosed with an immune system disorder, and his condition is said to be “extremely critical”.
“Nawaz Sharif has finally agreed to go to London after the doctors told him categorically that they had already exhausted all medical treatment [options] available in Pakistan and that going abroad is the only option left,” a Sharif family source said on Thursday.
In a statement, the interior ministry said last week that it had forwarded Nawaz’s health reports received from Sharif Medical City, Lahore, to the “Standing Medical Board” for their input and review.
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