ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: The National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) has claimed that ailments of former premier Nawaz Sharif are not ‘life-threatening’ and expressed doubt over the findings of a medical board constituted to examine him.

The anti-graft watchdog expressed these views before the Islamabad High Court on Saturday in a detailed response to the ex-premier’s petition seeking suspension of sentence and subsequent release on bail in Al-Azizia reference on medical grounds.

NAB’s deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Khan Abbasi also requested the court to dismiss the convict’s petition since an appeal against his conviction had already been fixed before an IHC bench. An accountability court of Islamabad had convicted Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference in December 2018 and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs1.5 billion and $25 million along with forfeiture of assets.

Personal physician requests Punjab govt to allow him to see ex-PM in jail

Regarding medical reports of the ex-PM, NAB contended that his ailments were not life-threatening and the prison authorities were providing him adequate medical care. “Moreover, the alleged opinion of various doctors is controverted and the procedure adopted in procuring the said reports is in contravention of the applicable law and rules,” NAB argued, adding that it cast a doubt and showed manipulation on part of the ex-premier to obtain the same from the aforesaid medical institution/doctors. It alleged that the veracity of the said documents was rebutted and the observation/recommendation in the alleged medical reports was controverted and denied.

According to NAB, similar arguments had been presented before the Supreme Court, which initially had suspended the sentence for six weeks but later rejected the review petition. The anti-graft watchdog stated: “The provision of section 9(b) of the NAO, 1999 contemplates that all offences under section 9 of the NAO are non-bailable and no court shall have jurisdiction to grant bail even to an accused in custody.”

According to the petition moved by the former premier, Nawaz Sharif has been suffering from numerous dangerous diseases according to his medical reports. The medical experts, who described Nawaz’s condition as critical, were of the opinion that his treatment was not possible in jail.

It stated that political rivals of the convict had been propagating against him and terming his bail plea “an attempt to avail NRO” that the petitioner said was a contempt of court. It added it wouldn’t affect the prosecution case if his sentence was suspended till final judgement on his appeal against trial court’s verdict in Al-Azizia Steel Mills case. He urged the court to grant him bail on medical grounds.

Physician writes to govt

Meanwhile, his personal physician Dr Adnan Khan asked the Punjab government to allow him to see Mr Sharif on a daily basis at the Kot Lakhpat jail to monitor his health till such time that he is not granted bail to seek treatment from doctors familiar with his medical condition and disease history.

In a letter sent to the chief secretary, Dr Khan said: “Keeping in view Mr Sharif’s health and the significance of daily and timely monitoring of his life-threatening diseases I want to reiterate my request to visit him on a daily basis. Mr Sharif is a patient of significant Ischemic Heart Disease, Cardiac Conduction Defects (LBBB / Heart Block), Chronic Kidney Disease (Stage 3), Extracranial Carotid & Vertebral Artery Disease (Carotid Artery Stenosis), Extracardiac Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease (Renal Artery Stenosis / PAD), Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension and other co-morbidities. The monitoring of the aforesaid diseases and his medication specifically Inj. Insulin requires regular dose adjustment.”

“Article 9 of the Constitution with respect to the right to life and Article 14 with respect to inviolability of dignity of man unequivocally protect the former premier’s right to a doctor who is familiar with his medical condition. While his incarceration demands his presence in Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore, it does not come at the risk of his health and life. I request that permission is granted to visit Mr Sharif on a daily basis and as and when required to monitor his health...,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2019