PML-N rejects govt’s condition of indemnity bond for Nawaz’s travel, approaches court

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday rejected the government’s conditional decision to allow Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for medical treatment, accusing the government of playing “dirty politics” on the former prime minister’s health.

Addressing a press conference alongside the PML-N’s top leadership, he announced that the party’s legal team has approached the Lahore High Court against the government decision.

It emerged while Shehbaz’s press conference was underway that a two-member bench of the LHC headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and including Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem would hear the PML-N president’s petition seeking removal of Nawaz’s name from the Exit Control List. The petition also asks that the court declare the condition for indemnity bonds as illegal.

After an initial hearing during which the federal government’s counsel raised an objection to the LHC hearing the petition, the high court issued notice to the government to submit a written reply to the petition. The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.

The government had on Tuesday announced that Nawaz will be given a “one-time” permission to travel abroad for his medical treatment for a period of four weeks. It said the permission would be subject to the Sharif family submitting an indemnity bond “to the tune of Rs7-7.5 billion”.

Shehbaz during the presser said the government by asking the PML-N to submit indemnity bonds to secure permission for Nawaz to travel abroad was, in fact, demanding “ransom” and the decision was not acceptable to the PML-N in any condition.

He said the “political game” staged by Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team regarding the PML-N supremo’s health is condemnable. The prime minister can “neither give nor take an NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance-like deal]”, Shehbaz added.

He asked the government whether Nawaz had submitted any indemnity or surety bonds when he had voluntarily returned to the country from London in July 2018 after he was sentenced to serve prison time by a trial court in the Avenfield reference.

“And today when two high courts have granted him bail and said that he can avail treatment in Pakistan or abroad, the government is doing politics on the issue.

“Renowned lawyers of the country have criticised the [government] decision,” the PML-N president said.

“There is no example of dirty politics in the country’s history over the health of anyone,” he added while accusing the government and other institutions of passing the buck to each other regarding deciding the matter.

“Nawaz Sharif’s health was turned into a shuttlecock,” he said, adding that doctors of the government-formed medical board had clearly stated that Nawaz should be moved abroad for treatment not available in Pakistan.

“The nation will not be able to tolerate if a mishap occurs due to the delay [in Nawaz travelling abroad,” the PML-N president stressed. He said unlike Nawaz, former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari were not asked to submit indemnity bonds before their names were taken off the no-fly list.

He claimed that there was no legal basis for the government to demand indemnity bonds from the Sharif family because two of the cases against Nawaz — Avenfield and Al Azizia reference — in which fines were imposed on him have not attained finality while the third — Flashship Investments reference — was thrown out by the trial court.

“Imran Khan I will hold you responsible if something happens to Nawaz Sharif due to this inordinate delay with a perverted mindset,” Shehbaz said, addressing the premier.

Nawaz’s personal physician Dr Adnan Khan while addressing the news conference said to this day it has not become clear why the PML-N supremo’s blood platelet count is so low.

He said members of the government-formed medical board had reached the conclusion that they had exhausted all measures available in the country to treat Nawaz’s ailment. “It is very important that he is allowed to travel abroad for definitive diagnosis,” the doctor added.

A senior leader of the PML-N had earlier said: “The option of moving the court to seek directives for the government to remove the PML-N supreme leader’s name from the ECL is under serious consideration. It is highly expected that opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif files a petition in a day or two.”

“The government’s offer is the worst example of the government’s vendetta against the Sharif family,” Nawaz’s son Hussain Nawaz said in a tweet while reacting to the government’s move.

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