Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem has announced that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will be given a “one-time” permission to travel abroad for his medical treatment for a period of four weeks and the permission will be subject to the Sharif family submitting an indemnity bond “to the tune of Rs7-7.5 billion”.
The PML-N swiftly refused the government decision, terming it “biased” and “based on revenge politics”.
Naseem was speaking after chairing a consultative meeting of the cabinet’s sub-committee held to finalise its recommendations on the matter of removing Nawaz’s name from the Exit Control List. He said the permission is “not conditional to anyone’s consent” and has been granted to fulfil the government’s obligations in view of Nawaz’s “adverse critical medical condition”.
He said the interior ministry had received an application from PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif for the removal of Nawaz’s name from the no-fly list. Along with the plea, a detailed medical report from Sharif Medical City hospital was also submitted. It was cross-checked and on November 10, the Punjab medical board in its report agreed with the report of the Sharif Medical City, Naseem added.
He said the report highlighted that Nawaz has a blood disorder, while his platelet count was around 25,000 when it should have been around 150,000 or above. He had also suffered a stroke.
“On November 12, we held three meetings and the sub-committee informed the cabinet that Nawaz Sharif’s medical condition is very serious,” he said, noting that besides the blood platelets issue, Nawaz suffers from numerous cardiac issues and has undergone six heart procedures in which seven stents were inserted. Naseem quoted doctors as saying that when they attempt to treat Nawaz’s platelet count issues, other complications including those related to his heart arise.
The law minister acknowledged that the committee members had not known that the former premier’s condition is “so adverse”, and once apprised of the same, the federal cabinet voted in favour of allowing Nawaz to travel abroad with a “thumping majority”.
However, he said, the cabinet members agreed that the permission will be “one time” and will be subject to the Sharif family submitting an indemnity bond.
Naseem said the permission will be formally issued to the Sharif family shortly. “It is up to them how they take the matter forward,” he added.
The government had asked that the PML-N supremo’s brother Shahbaz Sharif or his daughter Maryam submit on his behalf surety bonds equivalent to the fines imposed on him in the two corruption cases — Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield properties.
But the deadlock hampering the former premier’s chances of travelling abroad for medical treatment persisted as PML-N refused to submit the surety bonds. “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.
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. 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.
Shortly after the govt news conference, the PML-N rejected the government’s conditional offer to allow Nawaz to travel abroad. In a statement, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the government decision to make the removal of Nawaz’s name from ECL conditional to the submission of indemnity bonds was based on “[Prime Minister] Imran Khan’s biased attitude and revenge politics”.
She said surety bonds had already been submitted and constitutional and legal requirements had been met at the time of securing Nawaz’s bail from high courts. “A government court cannot be established above the court,” the spokesperson said, adding that the government demand to submit security bonds was not acceptable to the party.