ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking bail on medical grounds.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, after hearing the counsel for Mr Sharif and the prosecution team of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), rejected the petition through a short order.

Khawaja Haris Ahmed, lead defence counsel, in his concluding arguments stated before the court that a special medical board constituted by the Sharif Medical City which comprised senior doctors of Sheikh Zayed Hospital and Doctors Hospital Lahore opined that Mr Sharif should get medical treatment abroad, preferably from those doctors who treated him in the past. They are of opinion that the required facilities are not available in Pakistan.

Justice Kayani asked as to why doctors in Pakistan appeared reluctant to treat Mr Sharif.

Khawaja Haris replied that since his client was a high-profile person doctors in the country were avoiding taking any responsibility for his treatment. He said Mr Sharif’s health was deteriorating with the passage of time, adding that besides cardiac problems, high blood pressure and diabetic and renal disorder, the former PM also had been facing intense depression, especially since the demise of his spouse.

IHC judge asks as to why doctors in Pakistan appear reluctant to treat ex-PM; Maryam vows to fight for justice

He told the court that Mr Sharif left his unconscious wife after he was convicted by the accountability court and returned to Pakistan to undergo the sentence.

Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana, NAB’s additional prosecutor general, however, opposed the suspension of Mr Sharif’s sentence, saying that a similar petition for bail on medical grounds had already been filed in the Supreme Court during the hearing of Mr Sharif’s review petition against his sentence, but the apex court did not grant him any relief.

He said earlier the Supreme Court suspended Mr Sharif’s sentence for six weeks to provide him an opportunity to get medical treatment from doctors of his choice, but only some medical tests of the petitioner were conducted during the time. “He was released for treatment not for diagnosis,” he added.

When Justice Farooq inquired from Khawaja Haris about the proceedings on the review petition, he replied that the apex court asked him to approach the appropriate forum.

He argued that the Supreme Court did not consider the latest medical reports of Mr Sharif, saying that it was beyond the ambit of the review jurisdiction.

In the petition, Mr Sharif stated that he had been suffering from some dangerous diseases in accordance with his medical reports. Medical experts have stated that Mr Sharif’s condition is critical and his treatment is not possible in jail.

The petition stated that the former prime minister’s political rivals had been propagating against him and terming his bail plea an attempt to avail an ‘NRO’, which it claimed was a contempt of court. Mr Sharif stated that it wouldn’t affect the prosecution case if his sentence was suspended till final judgement on his appeal against the trial court’s verdict in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.

NAB in its reply, filed in response to Mr Sharif’s petition, expressed doubts on the medical reports and stated that his ailments were not life threatening and that the prison authorities were providing him adequate medical facilities.

According to NAB, similar arguments were presented before the Supreme Court, however, the apex court initially suspended the sentence for six weeks and later rejected the review petition.

The accountability court of Islamabad on Dec 24, 2018 convicted Mr Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference and sentenced him seven years imprisonment with a fine of Rs1.5 billion and $25 million along with forfeiture of assets.

PML-N’s reaction

In her reaction to the rejection of Mr Sharif’s bail petition, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Maryam Nawaz tweeted that the doors to justice had been shut on the person who stood for civilian supremacy and the rule of law in the country.

“I will raise voice against injustice and will go to the last resort and with the will of Allah will ensure justice for Nawaz Sharif,” she said in a tweet.

In another tweet, she said her fight would not be only for her father, but for all those innocent people who were behind bars.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the leader who made Pakistan a nuclear power was in jail where he was being denied meetings with his personal physician.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2019

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