Nawaz’s case will set tone of Pakistani politics, PML-N warns govt


–Khawaja Asif says indemnity bond has no monetary value, but it will prove to be deadly in backdrop of Pakistani politics

–Says Law Minister Farogh Naseem advocated freedom of movement for Musharraf, but now he’s opposing it in case of Nawaz Sharif


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif on Thursday chided the federal government for demanding indemnity bonds worth Rs7 billion from former premier Nawaz Sharif on the account of medical treatment in a foreign country, saying the government was “playing with the life” of the PML-N supreme leader by denying him an unconditional departure.

Insisting that the former prime minister be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment, Asif said the Rs7 billion’s surety bond had no monetary value but it could prove to be a “deadly thing” in the backdrop of the Pakistani politics.

“It will muddy politics in Pakistan,” he said in a National Assembly (NA) session.

Responding to the government’s concerns on whether the elder Sharif would come back after flying to the United Kingdom, the lawmaker said Nawaz has built his legacy in Pakistan as a three-time prime minister and the head of the largest political party, which would make him come back.

“A man who has everything in Pakistan, his politics is in Pakistan — politics is the most valuable property for politicians — his political career spanning 35-40 years, his voters are in Pakistan,” he said.

“He does not want to leave Pakistan. His doctors told him in front of me, that we (the doctors) have done as much as we can and while we have the capability to treat you, we do not have the technology or the wherewithal,” Asif said, elaborating on the issue.

Criticising Law Minister Farogh Naseem, the PML-N senior leader said Naseem had advocated freedom of movement for former dictator Pervez Musharraf but not for Nawaz.

“Uphold principles, do not make statements to suit current circumstances,” the PML-N leader said, adding: “I request [the government] not to turn Nawaz Sharif’s life into a pawn.”

He said even though the former PM was fighting for his life, he has not forgotten his real battle –which ‘vote ko izzat do’– and he is still fighting on that front.

He went on to claim that a “law officer told a court official […] that the government’s stance [on Nawaz’s health] is ‘let him die for all we care'”.

He also alleged that during a meeting of government members, Prime Minister Imran Khan had asked to confirm if Nawaz’s reports were being meddled with. “These attitudes are self-destructive,” the PML-N leader warned. “Let’s bring some civility in our attitudes,” he added.

He also took the government to the task over blacking out certain parts of his previous speeches, saying when the parliamentarians don’t have freedom of expression, how will the journalists get it?

Speaking in the House, PTI lawmaker Murad Saeed, however, questioned the ‘special treatment’ for the former prime minister, saying it was unfortunate that the PML-N could not improve health care enough that Nawaz could have been treated here.

“A child dies in his mother’s arms after a dog bite — that’s the state of medical facilities in Pakistan […] while the former premier is being asked to be sent abroad,” the minister said.