The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday rejected a petition seeking suspension of the sentence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia reference case on medical grounds.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, pronounced the verdict after hearing from the counsel of Sharif and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor.
During today's hearing, Sharif’s lead defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed informed the court that the former premier was seeking suspension of sentence and subsequent release for medical reasons.
Haris argued that "more than 60 per cent health condition of the former premier is in danger (sic)" and that he needs further treatment.
He said that treatment was also essential to reduce the mental stress Sharif was facing in jail.
Justice Kiyani asked the counsel if doctors had declared that Sharif's cure was not possible in the country. The counsel replied in the affirmative, adding that the former premier's health condition was deteriorating day by day.
Haris told the court that the former premier was suffering from diabetes and heart issues. He added that Sharif needs an attendant round the clock to ensure that his blood sugar level remains normal.
The lawyer said that he had already informed the court that Sharif's medical tests were carried out during the six-week relief period. Now that Sharif's diseases have been diagnosed, he needs treatment, Haris added.
Justice Farooq remarked that there are very skilled doctors in the country and several Pakistani doctors are working abroad.
Haris responded to this remark with an example of Pakistan-India cricket match, saying that the Pakistani side plays aggressively against others and feel pressure when they face India.
Justice Kiyani remarked that it seems the patient has no qualms about being treated in Pakistan but doctors are avoiding responsibility.
Hairs pointed out that courts had provided bail to Dr Asim Khan, Pervez Musharraf and others on medical grounds as well.
NAB prosecutor Jahanzaib Bharwana in his arguments said that Sharif had already been given six weeks for medical treatment. He added that the relief was given for treatment and not only lab tests.
On May 20, Sharif had filed in the IHC a fresh petition seeking release from Kot Lakhpat jail on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.
The petition sought suspension of 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 political leader was critical and he required a stress-free environment for his cardiac treatment as Sharif, according to doctors, was suffering from numerous diseases that could prove to be a threat to his life.
Earlier in May, the apex court had rejected 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.
On Dec 24 last year, accountability court judge Arshad Malik had convicted 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.
'Will fight against injustice'
Soon after the verdict was announced, Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz posted a series of tweets and vowed to "get justice for the masses' true representative".
"I will raise my voice, fight and go to every end against this injustice," she wrote. "I will get justice for the masses' true representative Nawaz Sharif God willing. Lock me in jail if [you] want to. Imprison me if [you] want to. You might fear these things, I don't. Very soon, the public will know the [game] played with Nawaz Sharif."