ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Cabinet on Tuesday decided to allow former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment if he agrees to sign surety bonds making a commitment that he would return after the treatment and face corruption cases against him.
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, approved removal of Sharif’s name from the no-fly list (Exit Control List-ECL).
Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad told media that the Cabinet “conditionally” allowed Sharif to go abroad.
The 69-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo agreed on Friday to go to the UK for treatment, heeding doctors’ advice and accepting his family’s request. He was scheduled to leave for London on a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight on Sunday morning. However, he could not leave as his name figured in the no fly-list.
Majority of the Cabinet members supported the decision to let him go out of the country for treatment but with the condition that he should give surety bonds to come back, he said.
Special Assistant on Information Firdous Awan, briefing media after the Cabinet meeting, said that Prime Minister Khan looked at the case of Sharif on “human grounds and decided to allow him (Sharif) get treatment out of Pakistan .
She also said the surety bond money should be equal to the fine imposed by the courts while convicting him.
Awan said that the sub-committee will meet again tonight to finalise the modalities of the surety bonds and other related matters before his name is removed from the no-fly list.
Earlier, a special sub-committee of the Cabinet in its meeting in the morning discussed the issue. Law Minister Farogh Naseem chaired the meeting attended by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar and the interior secretary.
Sharif’s personal physician Adnan Khan and a lawyer Attaullah Tarar as well as representatives of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) also attended the meeting.
The anti-corruption watchdog earlier refused to decide whether Sharif’s name should be removed from the no-fly list and asked government to decide the issue.
Sources in the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf told PTI that Prime Minister Khan was facing resistance from some of Cabinet colleagues and party members who were opposed to giving any concession to Sharif.
They believe that the decision to let Sharif go out on even medical grounds would hurt the party as the party won the elections on the slogan of bringing all corrupt politician to the books.
Last month, Sharif, who is suffering from a bleeding disorder, was granted bail by the Lahore High Court (LHC) on medical grounds, while the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended his seven-year jail-term for treatment.
His medic says Sharif needs to be flown abroad for treatment as his condition remains precarious. The Sharif family has requested the Interior Ministry to remove his name from the ECL, so that he could be flown to the United Kingdom.
An air ambulance will arrive in Lahore on Wednesday to take Sharif out of the country for treatment, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said.
She added that the doctors will use steroids and other medicines to ensure that the former prime minister’s platelets are up to the levels that will be required for travelling.
Sharif is suffering from multiple health complications, including erratic platelet count, and is currently being taken care at his residence near Lahore where an ICU has been set up.
The former prime minister was lodged in the Kot Lakhpat jail but last month he was sent to the custody of the NAB which is probing the Sharif family in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills corruption case.
On December 24, 2018, an accountability court had sentenced Sharif to seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case and acquitted him in the Flagship case.
On October 29, the Islamabad High Court suspended Sharif’s sentence in the Al-Azizia corruption case for eight weeks on medical grounds.
The Sharif family has denied all corruption charges and termed them as politically motivated.
Minister for Water Faisal Vawda tweeted to show his displeasure at the prospects of Sharif going out of the country. \
Addressing Sharif’s daughter Marriyum, Vawda wrote, Abbu (Nawaz) and Chacha (Shahbaz) are going to where (London) our other absconding relatives live with looted wealth of Pakistan.”
Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry told media that he was against any decision to let Sharif fly out of the country.
The government’s decision to allow Sharif to go abroad for treatment was crucial as Prime Minister Khan had been persistently saying that he would never show any leniency towards corrupt people.
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