ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has decided not to challenge the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) interim order which allowed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to proceed abroad for his medical treatment. The cabinet, however, will reconsider its decision to whether or not file an appeal when the court will announce its detailed judgement in the case in January.

This was announced by Law Minister Farogh Naseem, who along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Infor­mation Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, addressed a press conference here on Tuesday.

“The cabinet has unanimously decided not to challenge the LHC’s decision, but the government reserves a right to challenge the detailed judgement in the case,” he said.

Answering a question what if Mr Sharif does not return back to the country within the time span of four weeks mentioned by the court, the law minister said the former prime minister had left the country under commitments made before the court by him and his brother Shahbaz Sharif. “If he [Mr Sharif] does not return back to the country, he will become an offender,” he said, adding that: “If they [the Sharif brothers] would have submitted indemnity bonds of Rs7.5 billion, the bonds could be encashed in case they do not come back.”

Shahbaz will face contempt of court proceedings if ex-PM does not return, says law minister

“But if Mr Sharif will not return, then Shahbaz Sharif will face contempt of court proceedings,” he said.

Asked on what grounds the government will challenge the LHC’s verdict, either on the exit of Mr Sharif from the country or that he has not submitted Rs7.5 billion indemnity bonds demanded by the government, the law minister said: “We have to look into it after going through the detailed judgement that on what basis we will file an appeal against it.”

Mr Naseem said that there was a divide in the federal cabinet on the issue, adding that some cabinet members were of the view that the government should not challenge the LHC’s decision while some said that the government must file an appeal against it.

Mr Naseem said the LHC has given its interim order and the Supreme Court had rejected 99.9 per cent appeals filed against interim orders. “Therefore, we will wait for the final order of the court for filing an appeal if required.

He said the government would make contacts with the authorities of the United Kingdom so that Mr Sharif could be taken back to the country if he intentionally stayed in the country even after completion of his medical treatment.

Answering a question if the government will give similar facilities to ailing former president Asif Ali Zardari, the law minister said the government had so far not received any application from Mr Zardari regarding his plans to proceed abroad for medical treatment.

Later, Dr Awan gave details of other decisions taken by the cabinet. They included approval of the new national tariff policy and the renewable energy policy, 2019.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019