Nawaz Sharif’s departure to London was postponed on Monday after Pakistan's anti-graft body referred the case back to the federal government regarding removing ailing former premier's name from the no fly-list, according to media reports. The 69-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo agreed on Friday to go to the UK for the 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 (Exit Control List-ECL).
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 government could not remove Sharif's name from the no fly-list as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, Javed Iqbal was not available to issue a no-objection certificate. Firdous Ashiq Awan, the government's spokesperson, said the decision to remove Sharif from the ECL would be taken after recommendations from the NAB and doctors.
"The government itself does not place any individual's name on the ECL,” she said. "Names are placed on the ECL on the recommendations given by the NAB and the court," she also said. However, the NAB on Monday threw the ball back in the federal government's court, saying it was the "competent authority" to handle such matters, Dawn News reported. In a response submitted to the interior ministry, the NAB said that "the federal government is the competent authority to remove names from the ECL," Asim Ali Nawazish, a spokesperson for the bureau, was quoted as saying by the report.
According to doctors, Sharif's departure process needs to be speeded up, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted. Aurangzeb said that doctors had given the former prime minister a heavy dose of steroids to prepare him for his travel abroad. She said that it will become almost impossible to shift Sharif overseas for treatment in case of a medical emergency. "Nawaz Sharif's treatment abroad is being delayed by the delay in taking his name off the ECL," Geo News quoted Aurangzeb as saying. "Doctors have said that he cannot be given heavy doses of steroids time and again."
"Doctors have said that Sharif needs to be shifted abroad immediately," she said. A delay in his travel could pose a threat to his health," she said.
She said that doctors were doing their best to increase the platelet count of the former prime minister to ensure his health does not deteriorate when he travels. Punjab health minister Yasmin Rashid told the media in Lahore that a special medical board would meet on Monday to prepare a report in response to a letter by the Ministry of Interior about Sharif’s health.
The Sharif family approached the ministry, requesting the removal of Sharif's name from the ECL to pave way for the three-time prime minister to fly abroad for medical treatment. On Saturday, Sharif's platelet count was over 20,000. The Pakistan government decided to let Sharif go abroad for treatment due to his critical medical condition. Earlier, Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz said, "Mian sahib’s condition is very critical and he must go abroad for diagnosis of his disease and treatment. Doctors of the government and private medical boards have exhausted all options and they have unanimously recommended his treatment abroad."
"I wanted to stay with my father during his treatment (in London), but my passport is with the court. My thoughts and prayers will be with my father when he gets treatment,” she said. Sharif 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.