Rejecting a plea filed by former federal minister and PPP's Karachi president Dr Asim Hussain for permission to undergo spinal surgery abroad, the federal government reminded the Sindh High Court (SHC) that Dr. Hussain had been barred from leaving the country because of his involvement in multi-billion-rupee corruption cases.
Deputy Attorney General Liaquat Shaikh told a two-judge bench that the interior ministry had placed Dr Hussain on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the order of the high court and the recommendations of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which is pursuing two corruption references against him.
He submitted that Dr Asim could not be allowed to leave the country due to his involvement in mega corruption cases and pleaded that the court reject his application.
NAB Prosecutor Muhammad Altaf concurred, contending that the SHC itself — while granting him bail in the corruption cases on the medical grounds — had directed Dr Hussain to deposit his passports along with a surety while directing the interior ministry to place his name on the ECL.
The bench, headed by Justice Junaid Ghaffar, after hearing the federal government's counsel and the NAB prosecutor, put off the matter till May 26.
At the previous hearing, Dr Hussain’s counsel, Barrister Latif Khosa, had told the bench that his client “may lose his life if he did not undergo a spinal surgery abroad”.
The interior ministry, on behalf of the federal government, had informed the court during that hearing that Dr Hussain’s name had been added to the ECL on Nov 24, 2015, on NAB’s recommendation.
The ministry said his name was placed again on the ECL on April 6 this year in compliance with the SHC's order.
However, an anti-terrorism court had on April 15 allowed Dr Hussain to travel abroad after submitting a surety of Rs2 million.
It had ruled that if Dr Hussain did not return, the state should take over his hospitals.
Dr Hussain, a close aide to PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari, was released from a sub-jail set up for him at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on March 31 — after a little over 19 months in detention. He was granted bail in two corruption references filed by NAB for allegedly causing significant losses to the national exchequer through corrupt practices.