PML-N takes govt to court for demanding Rs7bn


–Shehbaz blasts govt, NAB for playing ‘dirty politics’ over Nawaz Sharif’s health, terms condition of indemnity bond a ‘ransom’

–Says if PML-N agrees to pay, PM Imran will wave around these bonds and term them as proof of ‘looted’ money


LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday issued notices to the federal government and Interior Ministry in a plea filed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), challenging the government’s decision of demanding indemnity bonds worth Rs7 billion from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in return for his removal from the no-fly list.

The decision to approach the high court was announced by PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif in a press conference, wherein he declared the government’s decision to demand surety bond a “ransom”.

Justice Ali Baqir Najafi and Justice Sardar Naeem of LHC heard the plea. The petition stated that there was no prohibition in removing the name from the ECL in the light of the bail granted to Nawaz Sharif.

PML-N’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz told the court that Nawaz has been granted bail on medical grounds but the federal government still did not remove his name from the ECL.

He said there were court decisions pertaining to the cases wherein people were removed from the no-fly list after they gained “plea bargain” and appealed to the court to permit Nawaz to go abroad.

Earlier in the day, Shehbaz Sharif flanked by senior PML-N leaders addressed a press conference.

The PML-N president said the government by asking the Sharif family to submit indemnity bonds to secure permission for Nawaz to travel abroad was, in fact, demanding “ransom”.

Condemning what he dubbed as a “political game” staged by Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team regarding the PML-N supremo’s health, Shehbaz said: “The prime minister can “neither give nor take an NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance-like deal].”

He called the bonds a “lie” and said the government was trying to fool the people.

“They’re trying to say ‘we got Nawaz and Shehbaz to pay Rs7.5bn,” he said. “Therefore, Nawaz Sharif and I and our party have rejected this condition and we don’t accept it at all,” he said.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan should de-politicise this human issue. But regardless, you could neither give or take an NRO, he said.

Shehbaz said his brother was facing many illnesses and will continue to do so.

“I ask the government, when, on July 6, 2018, a trial court gave a verdict against Nawaz and Maryam, and Nawaz was by his very sick wife’s bedside, and left her to come back to Pakistan on July 13 and went straight to jail, did you ask for an indemnity bond or surety bond? He came without it,” said the PML-N chief.

“Now, two high courts have given him bail and said he can go abroad for treatment but the government is playing politics on the issue,” said Shehbaz, terming it “disgraceful”.

Listing Nawaz’s achievements, he said there was no decision by the courts in this regard, yet the government was asking him to pay a bond.

“At a time when the entire country is worried about his health, the government is only worried about politics,” said Shehbaz, reiterating that they will never accept this condition.

Legal experts have also rejected and condemned this and said there is no legal standing or compulsion for him to pay the bond, said Shehbaz.

Our soft-spoken law minister, Farogh Naseem, said if the law is silent, then they can talk about it, said the PML-N chief. “I’m not a lawyer but big lawyers in Pakistan have condemned it and said there is no justification for it,” he said.

He accused the Interior Ministry and NAB of tossing the ball between themselves. Nawaz’s health has been made into a shuttlecock between NAB and the interior ministry, he said, accusing them of doing “dirty politics” on his health.

On October 22 night, Nawaz’s health deteriorated at the NAB office and his platelet count dropped to 15,000 or 16,000, said Shehbaz, who added that they rushed him to the hospital where his platelet count dropped to 2,000 the next day.

“It is a miracle in medical history that there was no internal bleeding,” he said, adding the former prime minister also suffered a cardiac episode due to the medicines that were prescribed to stablise the platelet count.

Even Dr Shamsi, the expert brought in by the Punjab government, advised that Nawaz be taken abroad, to Boston or Europe, for treatment, said Shehbaz.

“Despite multiple ministers and even the prime minister saying that they would facilitate Nawaz’s departure, nothing was done,” claimed Shehbaz.

“We paid a surety of either Rs10 million or Rs20 million in the Lahore High Court and Rs4 million in the Islamabad High Court, and both those courts said Nawaz can be treated anywhere in Pakistan or abroad, yet the government is adding conditions to deceive the public,” said Shehbaz.

Nawaz’s health is the most important thing, everything else is subordinate, he said. But what is the reason for the indemnity bond condition, he asked.

“Let’s say, even if we do sign these bonds, Imran Khan will wave them around and say ‘I got the money out of them’,” he said, calling the premier a person with a “small mind”.