Ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is allowed to seek medical treatment abroad and does not need to adhere to conditions set for him to leave the country, judges ruled yesterday.
“The court has allowed Nawaz Sharif to have medical treatment from abroad and rejected the conditions set by the government,” Shehbaz Sharif, the former premier’s younger brother, told reporters moments after the decision was announced in Lahore.
Sharif had been expected to be flown in an air ambulance to a London clinic on Tuesday but the departure was delayed after government asked him to submit a surety bond of Rs7bn ($44.8mn).
The move was challenged by the family in Lahore High Court where they argued that Sharif would return after the treatment.
Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif submitted a draft of undertaking to the court, assuring that former prime minister Sharif would return after urgent medical treatment.
The court had asked for a written affidavit from the Sharif family, guaranteeing that the former premier would return to Pakistan after receiving treatment.
Earlier, the court had sought written assurances from the PML-N president.
Shehbaz Sharif’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz told the court that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ready to assure the court that he would return to Pakistan after he recovers.
He added that the former premier was going abroad on the recommendations of doctors.
The court also asked the PML-N president what role he would play as a brother to ensure that Sharif returns to Pakistan.
During the court recess, Shehbaz Sharif’s lawyer submitted the two-page draft of the affidavit to the court.
The draft was then sent to the judges in their chamber.
According to the details of the draft, “Nawaz Sharif will return to the country as soon as he recovers after his treatment.
“He [Nawaz Sharif] will face his cases as soon as he returns to the country.”
The affidavit further said that Sharif will return to the country as soon as the doctors allow him.
“Nawaz Sharif is travelling abroad on the recommendation of the Pakistani doctors,” it added.
The former premier can stay out of country for four weeks, said Shehbaz Sharif’s lawyer Parvez, and can be extended if needed.
Sharif was serving a jail term for corruption, but was given bail on medical grounds.
The three-time ex-premier suffers from several medical conditions including chronic diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and a low blood platelet count.
Sharif, 69, became prime minister three times but has never completed a full term.
He was removed by the country’s Supreme Court in 2017 over corruption.
Meanwhile, a government report has revealed that it was the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that pushed for seeking an indemnity bond to secure Sharif’s return.
The detailed report of the federal cabinet’s subcommittee, which was tasked to decide the matter, states that it was the NAB’s idea not to allow the former premier to leave the country without evolving a proper mechanism to ensure his return.
“The federal government [may] evolve a mechanism to ensure that if Nawaz is permitted to travel abroad he will make himself available, if and when required by the concerned forums,” stated a NAB letter written to the government on November 11.
In view of the letter’s content, the subcommittee asked NAB representatives Umer Randhawa and Qamar Shehzad Phaphra about the “specific mechanism” to ensure Sharif’s return to Pakistan after a successful medical treatment.
The NAB apprised the subcommittee that there was no mechanism except for securing an indemnity bond and granting a one-time permission.
Later, the subcommittee directed the NAB to submit a clarification.
Upon this, the NAB authorities on November 13 submitted: “As per the media source/reports, the proposed mechanism stipulated by the federal government for dealing with the ECL [Exit Control List] issue of Nawaz is most appropriate and workable.
“In the media on November 12, 2019, it was widely broadcast that the federal government is agreeable to a one-time permission to Nawaz for four weeks, subject to him or Shehbaz submitting an indemnity bond of the amounts determined by the accountability courts.
“This being so, the NAB authorities appear to be agreeable.”
However, the committee was mindful that in terms of Rule 3(c) of 2010 Rules, a person who had been convicted by a court of law for any offence should remain on the ECL for so long as the said order of placing him on the ECL was in force and till his conviction attained finality.
“The convictions of Nawaz have not attained finality,” stated the report.
“Therefore, the federal government is not in a position to lift the name of Nawaz from the ECL but having said so, looking at the gravity of his medical condition and the past practice of the federal government, he could be granted a one-time permission, which does not amount to lifting his name from the ECL,” stated the report.
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif had on November 7 requested that the name of his elder brother Nawaz be removed from the ECL.
The cabinet committee then sought comments from the NAB, the specialised healthcare secretary, the Punjab medical education department, and the principal of the Lahore Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS)/Services Hospital.
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