ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday filed in the Islamabad High Court a fresh petition seeking release from Kot Lakhpat jail on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.
A two-judge IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb will take up the petition on Tuesday (today).
The petition sought suspension of Mr Sharif’s seven-year sentence and subsequent grant of post-arrest bail on medical grounds. Citing medical reports, it claimed that the condition of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supreme leader was critical and he required a stress-free environment for his cardiac treatment as Mr Sharif, according to doctors, was suffering from numerous diseases that could prove to be a threat to his life.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had rejected Mr Sharif’s review petition seeking bail on medical grounds and permission to go abroad for treatment and ordered him to surrender before the court as soon as his bail period ended. The apex court, however, suggested to the former premier’s counsel to approach the appropriate forum to get any relief.
The fresh petition contended that the apex court had initially suspended the sentence for six weeks, allowing Mr Sharif to get medical treatment from the doctor of his choice. It said medical tests conducted during his bail suggested that “the multifarious diseases/ailments of the petitioner [Mr Sharif] are not only life threatening, the threat to the petitioner’s life on account of these co-morbidities is bound to aggravate in case the petitioner is exposed to any physical or psychological stress”.
The petition contended that for Mr Sharif’s cardiac treatment, it was indispensable to take him to the same doctors who treated him. According to it, the former premier had undergone successful cardiac treatment in the United Kingdom.
The petition rejected a perception that the plea had any link to Mr Sharif’s treatment abroad and the possibility of NRO-like deal, saying that “the propaganda launched by the government functionaries/political opponents of the petitioner, and a particular segment of the print and electronic media, to the effect that the petitioner is seeking bail on medical grounds for his treatment abroad, is actually seeking an NRO, is not only tantamount to contempt of court, it is also malicious and false to the knowledge of such politicians and TV anchors, and stands comprehensively refuted by the past conduct of the petitioner”.
The petition recalled that when the accountability court had convicted Mr Sharif and awarded him 10-year sentence in the Avenfield properties reference on July 6 last year, he was in the UK but he flew back to Pakistan. During the bail, it argued, the conduct of the former premier remained good and he completely complied with the court’s directive and surrendered after the expiry of the bail.
The petition said that if the IHC suspended the sentence and granted bail to Mr Sharif, he “is ready and willing to furnish bail bonds to the entire satisfaction of this Hon’ble court”.
On Dec 24 last year, accountability court judge Arshad Malik had convicted Mr Sharif in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference. The court sentenced him seven-year imprisonment, besides imposing a fine of Rs1.5 billion and $25 million on him. The accountability court, however, acquitted the former premier in an identical case relating to Flagship Investment and other London-based companies owned by his children.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2019