Govt sought surety bonds keeping in mind track record of Sharifs: Firdous

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Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday condemned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) leadership for maligning Prime Minister Imran Khan despite his compassion for Nawaz Sharif on humanitarian grounds.

Addressing a press conference, she said the government from the very first day was determined to sort out the issue of Nawaz Sharif on humanitarian grounds and the prime minister graciously allowed constituting a medical board for him. The prime minster even stopped the spokespersons of the government from commenting on the health of ailing PML-N leader, she said, adding the government showed goodwill gesture at every step.

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Dr Firdous reiterated that the subcommittee of the cabinet headed by Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Nasim with all his honesty reviewed the application of Shehbaz Sharif in light of the relevant laws. “The government keeping in mind the track record of Sharif family sought indemnity bond from them for return of Nawaz Sharif after recovery,” she said, adding that unfortunately Sharif has always violated the commitment.

She said the political opponents did politics in open ground and that was the beauty of democracy but in the case of Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Imran Khan extended all his support to him on humanitarian grounds. She said the PML-N leadership instead of appreciating prime minister’s support politicized the whole issue which also irritated the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership as well as the workers.

Meanwhile, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor clarified that the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) which allowed Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for medical treatment is purely based on humanitarian grounds and merits of the case are yet to be decided as no legal reason was given in the order. He categorically said that it is an interim/tentative order of the court, and court did not reject the government stance as the case will be resumed for final decision to look into merits of the case in January 2020.

He said the cabinet never opposed Nawaz’s travel abroad, however a legal requirement was necessary to fulfill, to which Prime Minster Imran Khan and the cabinet, despite all legal bindings, showed flexibility and obliged Nawaz Sharif. He said that undertaking before the court of law has more value as compared to indemnity bonds the government was asking for because if the signatories – Nawaz Sharif and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif – will not fulfil their commitment to the courts then they could be tried under contempt of court ordinance and Article 61, 62-B of the constitution, he added.

Anwar Mansoor said while keeping in view the track record of the Sharif family, the court should have taken indemnity bonds from them, however it only imposed one condition and that was a four-week extendable permission. He said after the written order of the court is received, the matter will be produced before the cabinet which will decide whether it should file appeal or not.

The interior ministry said on Saturday that it will remove former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the exit control list after receiving a verified copy of the court order. It also said that in the past, names had been removed from the no-fly list even on a holiday.

However, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry suggested approaching the Supreme Court against the LHC verdict of allowing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for treatment. In a statement, he said the court decision will be a blow to the country’s judicial system if it goes unchallenged.

The minister said he has not seen such decisions over 17 years of his legal practice. It remains to be seen how many prisoners benefit from the verdict, he added.