A balanced judgment


Nawaz Sharif gets relief on medical grounds

Finally, Nawaz Sharif’s petition challenging the IHC’s decision refusing him bail in the al-Azizia corruption case was accepted by the Supreme Court on medical grounds. The former PM has been granted bail with tough conditions attached, including two hefty surety bonds, treatment to be sought within the country and Nawaz Sharif promptly returning to jail at the end of six weeks. He was warned that in case he fails to surrender himself to jail authorities after the deadline he would be arrested.

The bail was sought on the basis of the alleged deterioration in his condition, with ailments that could be life-threatening if not urgently treated. It was also argued that mental stress stood in the way of his recovery. This led the court to pass observations regarding the way NAB was conducting investigations that created mental stress, driving some to commit suicide.

Unlike Shehbaz Sharif, whose name was removed on the orders of the LHC from the ECL on Tuesday, Nawaz Sharif has already been convicted in the al-Azizia reference. He cannot therefore be allowed to go abroad by a court. The PTI government has made it clear that it will in no case allow him to leave the country. The former PM has got what his counsel prayed for, with the SC only reducing the sought-for bail period by two weeks. However, in case he needs more time, he could petition the relevant high court. Under the circumstances, this is the best relief Nawaz Sharif could get. He can now go to any of the reputed private hospitals in the country, and even call a physician or surgeon of his choice from abroad for help.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remark regarding the Sharifs having been in power for years and still failing to build one hospital where they themselves could be treated is quite apt. The remark is however a double-edged sword. One hopes the PTI would learn from the failures of its predecessors and build state-of-the-art medical facilities where not only the political elite, but also the common people, can seek admission. Hopefully one will find more funds for health in the forthcoming budgets than allocated by the PTI’s predecessors.