Nawaz's political legacy, his workers are guarantors of his return, says Khawaja Asif

14 Nov 2019


PML-N leader Khawaja Asif addresses the National Assembly on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
PML-N leader Khawaja Asif addresses the National Assembly on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

PML-N leader Khawaja Asif on Thursday accused the government of "playing with Nawaz Sharif's life" and insisted that the former prime minister be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.

The former minister criticised the government for demanding indemnity bonds worth Rs7 billion, saying, "This Rs7 billion's surety bond has no monetary value but, against the backdrop of Pakistan's [political scene], it is a deadly thing. It will muddy politics in Pakistan."

"We, his workers, are guarantors of his return," Asif declared. "Pakistan's public will bring him back, God will bring him back, his three terms as prime minister, that are his legacy, will bring him back."

"A man who has everything in Pakistan, his politics is in Pakistan — politics is the most valuable property for politicians — his political career spanning 35-40 years, his voters are in Pakistan.

"He does not want to leave Pakistan. His doctors told him in front of me, that we (the doctors) have done as much as we can and while we have the capability to treat you, we do not have the technology or the wherewithal," Asif told the parliament and added that a government doctor had recommended Nawaz to go to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where all his ailments can be treated.

The PML-N stalwart alleged that the government was "playing with [Nawaz's] life" and lamented that Law Minister Farogh Naseem had advocated freedom of movement for former president Pervez Musharraf but not for Nawaz.

"Uphold principles, do not make statements to suit current circumstances," the PML-N leader said, adding: "I request [the government] not to turn Nawaz Sharif's life into a pawn."

He went on to claim that a "law officer told a court official [...] that the government's stance [on Nawaz's health] is 'let him die for all we care'".

He also alleged that during a meeting of government members, Prime Minister Imran Khan had asked to confirm if Nawaz's reports were being meddled with. "These attitudes are self-destructive," the PML-N leader warned.

"A thrice-elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is fighting for his life and his doctors have been expressing concern regarding his health for the past few months. I am proud that even while he is fighting for his life, he has not forgotten his real battle, which is vote ko izzat do (respect the vote), he is still fighting on that front as well," Asif said amidst applause from opposition benches.

"Let's bring some civility in our attitudes," he added.

Asif alleged that parts of his previous speeches in the assembly had been "muted" and asked: "When we (the parliamentarians) don't have freedom of expression, how will they (journalists) get it?"

PTI lawmaker Murad Saeed, however, questioned the 'special treatment' for the former prime minister, saying it was unfortunate that the PML-N could not improve health care enough that Nawaz could have been treated here.

"A child dies in his mother's arms after a dog bite — that's the state of medical facilities in Pakistan [...] while the former premier is being asked to be sent abroad," he said.