- Setting a bad precedent
There is little change in the PTI government’s vengeful attitude towards former PM Nawaz Sharif who is currently under treatment in Lahore Services Hospital. Despite complaints by the PML-N that proper treatment was not being provided to Mr Sharif in jail, he was taken by NAB into custody resulting in his lack of communication with outside world. He was taken to hospital only when his health deteriorated badly. In a display of callousness, PTI ministers initiated a campaign to make fun of the former PM’s illness, with PM’s Information Adviser Firdous Ashiq Awan claiming that the PML-N leader was feigning illness despite being able to walk.
Three days later, when it was no more possible to deny the seriousness of his condition, Prime Minister Imran Khan grudgingly tweeted that political differences apart he prayed sincerely for Mr Sharif’s health. Meanwhile, PTI ministers, including Firdous Ashiq Awan and Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, continued to make fun of the illness as before. Punjab Health Minister Yasmeen Rashid insisted that there were signs of improvement in the former PM’s condition and as treatment for his ailments was available in Pakistan, there was no need to fly him out of the country.
Two petitions seeking bail for the former PM on medical grounds were filed, one in LHC and the other in IHC. The LHC, which has been hearing the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, has granted him bail.
The IHC had sentenced Mr Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference and had rejected an earlier appeal for bail filed on medical grounds. Keeping in view the doctors’ report regarding Mr Nawaz’s serious condition and the hope that the new treatment might work, the court adjourned the hearing till Tuesday when it would take a decision on the basis of the latest health report.
Any relief in the form of bail will only allow Mr Sharif to meet the people. He can travel out of the country for treatment only if allowed by the court. While some in the PML-N and certain other circles would prefer the former PM to go abroad, Nawaz Sharif may refuse to leave Pakistan if treatment is available here while fighting the case to get the sentence waived.