Shahbaz chides Imran for tying Nawaz travel to bonds

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LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif addressing a press conference on 
Thursday.—M. Arif / White Star
LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif addressing a press conference on Thursday.—M. Arif / White Star

LAHORE: Claiming that Prime Minister Imran Khan is in no position to offer an NRO [deal] to anyone, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif has said that attaching indemnity bonds’ condition with the travel abroad of ailing former premier Nawaz Sharif is his [Mr Khan] brainchild to use it for political gains.

“Imran Khan Niazi wants to wave in the air this indemnity bonds paper telling people that he has recovered the amount [Rs7.5 billon] from the Sharif family. It’s a conspiracy of Imran Niazi to mislead the public but we did not come into his trap and refused to sign the indemnity bonds and decided to challenge this condition in the court,” the opposition leader in the National Assembly said at a press conference at the PML-N’s Model Town secretariat on Thursday after presiding over a party meeting to discuss the matter.

Meanwhile, on Nawaz Sharif’s petition challenging the condition of furnishing indemnity bonds for removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL), the Lahore High Court sought parawise comments from federal government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) by Friday (today).

On Wednesday, the PTI government had granted a one-time permission to Nawaz Sharif for four weeks to travel abroad (London) for his treatment provided he submitted indemnity bonds worth over Rs7.5bn.

LHC seeks comments from government on Nawaz’s petition challenging condition

Calling PM Khan and his team “small-minded persons”, Shahbaz Sharif said: “For the last 20 days they are doing dirty politics on the health of the three-time prime minister. Imran wanted to secure ransom on the pretext of indemnity bonds,” he said. He pointed out that no such condition was there when Nawaz Sharif was in London in 2018 and yet he returned along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz to serve jail term in the Avenfield properties reference [which was later suspended].

“Imran Khan Niazi I will hold you responsible if anything happens to Nawaz Sharif because of this intentional and inordinate delay in his travel abroad for treatment,” he said, adding that the seeds of hatred Imran Khan was sowing had serious repercussions.

“Imran Niazi is seriously mistaken. You are in no position whatsoever to offer or secure NRO [deal],” the PML-N president said and asked the premier to stop the rant of “I will not give NRO”.

“Two courts — Islamabad High Court and LHC — have granted Mr Sharif permission to go abroad for his treatment, but the PTI government is doing politics on it. There is no question of accepting its [government] illegal condition; even the known legal experts have condemned this conditional offer [to Nawaz Sharif],” he said, adding that it was the worst example in the country’s political history in which a party [PTI] played dirty politics on someone’s health. He said the doctors of the government-formed medical board had clearly said that the former premier needed treatment abroad since it was not available in Pakistan.

Recalling how the names of former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari were removed from the ECL without any indemnity bonds, Shahbaz Sharif said: “Law Minister Farogh Naseem fought the case of Musharraf who wanted to go abroad for treatment of his backache and to see his ailing mother. Did the government of the time seek indemnity bonds from him [Musharraf]? Similarly, how come Zulfi Bukhari’s name was removed from the ECL in a half-an-hour notice? These are fit cases of double standards.”

He said Nawaz Sharif’s condition was critical and an air ambulance would arrive once his name was removed from the ECL.

Court proceedings

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Ishtiaq A. Khan and NAB’s special prosecutor Naeem Tariq Sanghera appeared on court’s call when a two-judge LHC bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem took up Mr Sharif’s petition at around 4.30pm.

A PML-N legal team led by Advocate Amjad Pervez filed the petition in the court as an urgent matter at around 3.15pm with a request to condone the delay and fix it for a same-day hearing.

At the outset of the hearing, Advocate Pervez argued that the government’s condition of furnishing indemnity bonds to remove the name of the petitioner from the ECL was not based on any provision of the law. He said the condition had no legal standing since the petitioner had already been granted bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case by the Lahore High Court and his sentence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference had been suspended by the Islamabad High Court.

AAG Khan sought time to verify from the record when asked whether the impugned order of the government for indemnity bonds was a result of any consensus and whether the petitioner was placed on the ECL on the recommendations of Lahore or Islamabad office of NAB.

The law officer also sought time to file parawise comments on the petition, which the bench duly allowed. The bench also asked the law officer to assist it in a legal point on whether the government had the power to put any condition for removing the name from the ECL if there was a court order.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019