A Pakistani court on Friday admitted for hearing ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's plea challenging the Imran Khan government's condition of furnishing an indemnity bond for the removal of his name from the no-fly list so that he could travel to the UK for his medical treatment.
Sharif, 69, on Thursday filed a petition in the Lahore High Court seeking an order for the government to remove his name from the no-fly list or the Exit Control List (ECL). The court sought comments from the government and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) by Friday.
The Lahore High Court's two-member bench headed by Justice Baqar Naqvi declared Sharif's petition "maintainable" and after hearing the arguments of both the government and Sharif's counsels, it adjourned the proceedings till Saturday.
On Wednesday, the federal government granted a one-time permission to Sharif for four weeks to travel to the UK for his treatment provided he submitted an indemnity bond worth Rs 700 crore.
The Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) supremo, however, refused to submit the bonds, saying it was a trap by prime minister Khan to use them (bonds) for his political gains.
In its 45-page reply, the federal government opposed Sharif's plea contesting that the court does not have the jurisdiction to hear this petition.
It argued that the Islamabad High Court was competent to hear the matter as cases of Sharif's conviction was handed down by the accountability courts of the federal capital.
Sharif's counsel Amjad Pervaiz argued that the court had the jurisdiction to hear the matter since the NAB is a federal institution and has its offices in all provinces of the country.
He also said the government cannot deprive anyone of his/her fundamental rights. He also presented the example of former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf who was allowed to travel abroad without attaching the condition of indemnity bonds.
“Nawaz Sharif’s condition is very critical and he has to go abroad (London) for diagnosis and treatment of his disease,” Sharif's brother Shahbaz Sharif said.
The PML-N president said the prime minister is doing "dirty politics" on the health of Sharif.
“If this intentional and inordinate delay in Nawaz's travel to London for his treatment caused any harm to his health, Imran Khan Niazi will be responsible for this,” he said.
Shahbaz said Sharif returned in July 2018 to the country to face jail. “Why any guarantee is needed to allow Nawaz to leave the country. This condition of 'political ransom’ is not acceptable to us,” he clarified.
According to the PML-N, the doctors had recently given high dose of steroids to Sharif thrice for his expected travel abroad which may have negative effects on his health, and all this has gone in vain because of the government's indecision.
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.
Sharif recently secured eight weeks bail on medical grounds from the Islamabad High Court in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was serving seven years imprisonment. He also got bail from the Lahore High Court in the money laundering case.
The former prime minister is suffering from multiple health complications, including erratic platelet count, and is currently being treated at his residence near Lahore where an ICU has been set up.
Sharif agreed 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.