File Nawaz’s reports or face contempt, AGP tells Shehbaz

Published January 25, 2022
A file photo of PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif. — AFP
A file photo of PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: The office of the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) on Monday warned opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif that he could face contempt of court proceedings if he fails to furnish fresh reports regarding the medical condition of his elder brother and former prime minister, Mohammad Nawaz Sharif.

“In the event of your failure, [AGP] office shall be constrained to initiate proceedings for breach of undertaking and violation of the order of the Lahore High Court (LHC) in terms of Article 204 of the Constitution, read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003,” warned the two-page letter issued by Secretary Khalid Khan Niazi to the leader of opposition in the National Assembly, on the directions of AGP Khalid Jawed Khan.

The fresh letter is the second piece of correspondence on this subject to be dispatched by the AGP office within the past fortnight — a Jan 12 letter addressed to the Punjab government had sought the constitution of a medical board to determine the current state of the former premier’s health.

However, the letter to Shehbaz Sharif states that before initiating proceedings before the high court over “breach of undertaking and order of the LHC, it is deemed appropriate that this letter is addressed to you for providing the medical reports as stated in the letter of the special medical board within a period of ten days of the receipt of the letter”.

AGP letter says documents do not contain sufficient information; Fawad seeks live broadcast of cases against opposition leader

The letter recalled how the special medical board met on Jan 17, 2022 to examine the 29-page documents issued by Cardiothoracic Surgeon David R Lawrence. The board concluded that the documents did not provide any information about the current clinical evaluation, including blood reports, imaging results and any interventional procedures carried out so far on Nawaz Sharif.

It concluded that the board was not in a position to render “any structured advice or a considered opinion” about his current physical condition and ability to travel, to the competent authority in the light of the information available.

The letter stated that it was evident from the observations of the board that the opposition leader had not fulfilled his obligation to provide periodical medical reports from Nawaz Sharif’s doctor, as per his solemn undertaking and the order of the LHC.

“You are, therefore prime facie in violation of your undertaking and [the] order passed by the LHC on Nov 16, 2019,” the letter emphasized.

In its meeting on Jan 11, the federal cabinet had discussed the matter at length and, subsequently, the AGP office was instructed to initiate proceedings against Shehbaz Sharif for an apparent violation of the affidavit he submitted before the LHC.

To initiate the process envisioned by the Nov 16, 2019 order of the high court, the Punjab government was requested to constitute a medical board to examine the documents submitted as reports of Nawaz Sharif so that expert medical opinion could be obtained regarding his physical condition and his ability to travel back to Pakistan.

On Nov 16, 2019 an LHC division bench had granted one-time permission to Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for four weeks as an interim arrangement, and he was to return when doctors certified that he had regained his health and was fit to travel back to Pakistan.

Recalling that both the Sharif siblings had submitted undertakings to this effect before the court, the letter also cited the affidavit submitted by Shehbaz Sharif to ensure the return of his brother within four weeks, or as and when certified as fit to travel by doctors.

The undertaking also contained the stipulation that if, at any stage, the federal government had credible information that Nawaz Sharif was living abroad despite his fitness to travel, a representative from Pakistan’s high commission or embassy would have a right to meet with his physicians to verify the state of his health.

The letter noted that only eight documents, claimed to be periodical medical reports of the former prime minister, were filed with the LHC registrar and that the last available report was dated July 8, 2021 and was filed in Aug of that year.

The letter notes that the present physical condition of Nawaz Sharif, as seen on the media and given the fact that his critical condition at the time of leaving the country seemed to have improved, it seems that the severe ailment that earlier constrained his activities no longer exists.

Live telecast

Separately, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain made a passionate appeal to the judiciary to allow court proceedings in cases against opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif to be broadcast live in television, APP reported.

“In our opinion, court proceedings in the Shehbaz Sharif case should be telecast live so that people know the reality of his case,” he told a news conference in Islamabad on Monday.

He said public had every right to know how the Sharif family laundered money, adding that the nation also wanted the Zardari family to be held accountable for their alleged involvement in corruption and money-laundering.

He also asked that proceedings in the cases against leaders of PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party be expedited.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022



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