• Opposition party says it honours court decisions, but leader’s life is in danger
• Minister advises ex-PM to return, face courts and serve out his sentence
ISLAMABAD: Reacting to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) order for the arrest and production of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif before the court, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Tuesday said the party had always honoured court decisions, but the party supremo would return to the country only after his health permitted him.
The government, however, advised the ex-premier to abide by the court orders and return to Pakistan from the United Kingdom to face cases against him.
PML-N leader Khawaja Asif, in a press conference with other leaders of the party soon after the high court decision, said: “Although it [IHC’s decision] is against us, we respect it, as we respect all decisions of courts. Respecting the decision of the courts is a founding principle of our party.”
In a significant development, the IHC decided that Nawaz Sharif should surrender himself before the hearing of his appeals against conviction in Al Azizia and Avenfield references, as he did not deserve any relief or bail. Before adjourning further hearing till Sept 23, the court also rejected his request to allow him to be represented by a counsel in his absence, observing that he should be arrested and produced before the court.
Mr Asif claimed that the health of Nawaz Sharif did not allow him to return to the country at this stage. “The life of Nawaz Sharif is in danger and in the present circumstances he cannot suffer hardships of imprisonment. Once his health is stable he will definitely return to the country to face cases against him,” he said.
Another PML-N stalwart Ahsan Iqbal said the supreme leader of the main opposition party had left the country on the basis of government’s medical reports. “Prime Minister Imran Khan himself had informed his cabinet that he had got information from spy agencies that the condition of Nawaz Sharif required him to go abroad for medical treatment,” he added.
Mr Iqbal recalled that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf got relief from the Lahore High Court after he had been declared a proclaimed offender.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi claimed his party believed that Nawaz would get justice from courts.
Later, federal Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz told a presser that Nawaz Sharif should return to the country without any further delay following the IHC decision. “You have heard decision of the high court and if Nawaz Sharif respects courts, he should return,” he said.
Mr Faraz said there were many prisoners who have been suffering from aliments severer than Nawaz Sharif’s illness, yet they were in jails. “There should be one law for all in the country,” he added.
“They [PML-N leadership] committed those act after which they deserve jail, but they always tried to escape abroad on the pretext of bad health,” the minister remarked.
He said the son of opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz, was also trying to get shifted to hospital from jail.
Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the non-bailable arrest warrants of Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases by the IHC would pave the way for his return to the country. The minister said the ex-premier should return the looted national exchequer so that it could be utilised for the welfare and development of the country and its masses. He also advised him to return and face the corruption cases registered against him and serve out the sentence.
Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2020