AG asks Punjab to form board on Nawaz’s health

Published January 13, 2022
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is seen in London in this file photo. — Photo courtesy Atika Rehman
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is seen in London in this file photo. — Photo courtesy Atika Rehman

ISLAMABAD: The attorney general’s office on Wednesday asked the Punjab government to consider constituting a medical board or a committee that could determine the current status of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader was granted one-time permission by a bench of the Lahore High Court in November 2019 to travel abroad as an interim arrangement for four weeks to seek medical treatment.

As per the undertaking submitted to the court, he was to return when doctors certified that he was in good health and fit to travel back to Pakistan.

In a two-page letter, addressed to Punjab Home Secretary Zafar Nasrullah Khan, the attorney general’s office wrote: “In order to initiate the process of verification in the light of the Nov 16, 2019 Lahore High Court order, the government of Punjab is requested to constitute a medical board/committee to examine the documents submitted as medical reports on behalf of the petitioner and Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif so that expert medical opinion regarding the physical condition of Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and his ability to travel back to Pakistan is made available.”

Body may consider documents submitted by Sharifs, ex-PM’s public activities to form opinion

The letter was written in line with the federal cabinet’s instructions to the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) to initiate proceedings against the Sharif family for the apparent violation of the undertaking submitted before the Lahore High Court.

The letter recalled that former Punjab chief minister Mian Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif and his elder brother had given undertakings before the court.

The AGP letter suggested that the medical board may examine the documents submitted by the petitioner before the high court and, given all the known and reported facts and public activities of the former prime minister, evaluate and form an opinion. Once expert medical opinion is available, the AGP office said it would proceed as per the order of the high court.

The letter pointed out that Nawaz Sharif’s “apparent present physical condition was available in the media”.

“Given the fact that he had left the country claiming to be in extreme critical condition which prima facie improved significantly after his arrival in London and the fact that he has apparently never been hospitalised and his political, social and other recreational activities have continued uninterrupted… indicate that severe ailment, if any, that may have existed in [the] past is no longer evident or [constrains] his activities,” the letter said.

“This is further reinforced by the public statements made and reported in the media by his close family members including Shehbaz Sharif and other political associates, who recently met Nawaz Sharif in London,” the letter recalled.

The AGP’s letter surmised that this could indicate that the former prime minister was fit to travel back to Pakistan, as per the solemn and binding undertakings and commitments made before the high court.

However, it maintained that a firm view or opinion on Nawaz Sharif’s health, physical condition and fitness to travel could only be formed on the basis of independent expert medical opinion.

The letter highlighted that the undertakings given by the Sharif family were incorporated in the order of the Nov 11, 2019 LHC order and Shehbaz Sharif had submitted eight documents, claimed to be Nawaz’s periodical medical reports – the last of which dated July 8, 2021 was filed before the court on Aug 3, 2021.

The letter cited the undertaking given by Shehbaz Sharif to ensure the return of his brother within four weeks, or as and when certified by doctors. The former chief minister had also undertaken to provide to the high court registrar periodical medical reports, duly notarized by the embassy or high commission of Pakistan.

The undertaking stated that if at any stage, the federal government had credible information that Nawaz Sharif was living abroad despite being fit to travel, a representative from the embassy or high commission would have a right to meet his physicians to verify his health status.

The elder Sharif sibling had also undertaken that he would return to Pakistan, as per his past record, to face the legal process within four weeks, or as soon as he was declared healthy by his doctors.

Nawaz Sharif had assured the high court that he was bound by the undertaking given by his brother.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2022

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