ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties in the National Assembly on Thursday asked the government to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for his medical treatment without any condition.

The house also discussed the issue of recently fixed wheat support price of Rs1,350 per 40 kg and both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) urged the government to fix it at Rs1,400-1,600 per 40 kg.

The opposition accused Speaker Asad Qaiser of being biased for not issuing production orders of jailed or detained opposition leaders.

Speaking on the issue of Nawaz Sharif’s health, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said the former prime minister would definitely return after receiving treatment from abroad as he had served the country thrice and he could not leave his legacy behind.

Minister defends condition of indemnity bonds for PML-N supremo

“I am 100 per cent sure and give a guarantee that Nawaz Sharif will definitely return back,” he said.

Khawaja Asif rejected media reports that Mr Sharif had deposited Rs12 billion in the national exchequer.

He urged the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to avoid victimisation of its opponents.

“We did similar mistakes in 90s which the PTI is doing now, but we learnt from our past and avoided political confrontation when we came to power in 2008 and 2013,” he added.

He said Mr Sharif had agreed to go abroad for medical treatment on insistence of his mother, other family members and friends. But now the government had come up with a condition of Rs7 billion indemnity bonds for removing his name from the Exit Control List (ECL), which was unacceptable.

“If anything wrong happens to Nawaz Sharif the government will have to pay its price here and in the hereafter,” he said.

Mr Asif said production orders of detained opposition MNAs were not being issued and privilege motions of the opposition were not being entertained.

The speaker claimed that he always tried to run the house without any discrimination.

PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also urged the government to avoid point-scoring on the health of Nawaz Sharif and allow him to go to any country for medical treatment.

“It is sad that we can give medical care to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav or other prisoners of war, but not to a person who had served as a prime minister for three times,” he added.

Mr Ashraf said health condition of former president Asif Ali Zardari was also quite serious, but even then his medical reports were not being shared with his children. “I also demand that a medical board, in which personal doctors of Mr Zardari are included, should be formed,” he added.

Agha Hasan Baloch of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, an ally of the government, also said Nawaz Sharif should be permitted to go abroad without any delay and that a medical board for assessing the condition of Mr Zardari should be constituted.

Then the speaker gave the floor to Communications Minister Murad Saeed to speak on the issue.

The minister said that the government had asked Nawaz Sharif to submit indemnity bonds because several PML-N leaders and members of the Sharif family had gone abroad, but did not return.

“Former finance minister Ishaq Dar; Ali Imran, son-in-law of Shahbaz Sharif; Hassan and Hussain Nawaz and a son of Shahbaz Sharif who were wanted in corruption cases had gone abroad, but they did not come back,” he said.

Mr Saeed recalled some of the government’s achievements, including withdrawal of $1.5 billion penalty in Karkey (ship-mounted Turkish rental power project) case, bringing back 4,687 Pakistanis languishing in jails of different countries, improvement in the stock exchange and Pakistan’s improvement in international ranking of “ease of doing business”.

He said the nation would soon hear a good news regarding withdrawal of $6 million damages in the Reko Diq copper and gold case.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019