–PM’s aide Shahzad Akbar says court reinforced cabinet decision, as it merely replaced govt’s Rs7bn surety bond condition with an undertaking from Sharif family
–AGP says relief given on humanitarian grounds, verdict doesn’t take merits of case into consideration
–PM directs govt’s legal team to review court’s verdict, says cabinet to chalk out future strategy
ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Sunday said that the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision of allowing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment without any conditions has “validated” the federal cabinet’s stance.
Addressing a joint press conference with Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said the court had maintained the cabinet’s decision as well as the time limit of four weeks, but the condition of indemnity bonds was suspended and replaced with undertakings from Nawaz and his brother, Shehbaz Sharif– the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
As per the law the name of a convict cannot be removed from the Exit Control List (ECL), he said, adding that the government still permitted Nawaz to leave on humanitarian grounds for medical treatment for four weeks.
Akbar said that the condition of indemnity bond was put forth because of the past record of the former premier.
“Nawaz had “broken promises” many times in the past, had received the certificate of “not being Sadiq (truthful) and Ameen” (righteous) from the Supreme Court (SC), and several members of his family were proclaimed offenders,” he said, adding that the amount of surety bond for Nawaz was determined on the basis of sentences awarded to him in Al-Azizia case.
“The government would have had to approach the civil courts for enforcement of the indemnity bonds in case Nawaz refused to return to the country, but now the high court itself has taken an undertaking from the Sharif brothers keeping in view the spirit of the cabinet decision,” he said.
Akbar said that the court has granted access to a government representative to verify the PML-N leader’s medical reports while he’s under treatment abroad. He also said that violation of the undertaking given by Shehbaz would be a serious criminal offence.
Speaking to reporters, the AGP said that the court’s decision was purely based on humanitarian grounds and the merits of the case were yet to be decided as no legal reason was given in the order. He further said that the matter would be discussed by the cabinet on Tuesday.
He said that it was an interim order of the court, and it did not reject the government’s stance as the case would be resumed for the final decision to look into the merits of the case in January 2020.
The cabinet never opposed Nawaz’s need to travel abroad, but it couldn’t let him go without fulfilling legal requirements, he added.
He said that the undertaking before the court of law had more value than indemnity bonds the government was asking for and if the signatories, Nawaz and Shehbaz, do not fulfil their commitment to the courts then they could face trial under Contempt of Court Ordinance and Article 61, 62-B of the Constitution.
He said that after the written order of the court, the matter would be produced before the cabinet which would decide whether it should file an appeal or not.
IMRAN SEEKS REPORT:
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the government’s legal team to review the court’s decision in this matter and present a report in the next cabinet meeting. Reportedly, the premier and his cabinet members will prepare a strategy on how to deal with the situation during the meeting as well.
In a major setback to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the LHC on Saturday had allowed the former premier to travel abroad for four weeks without having to sign the indemnity bond suggested by the federal government, saying the duration could be extended on doctors’ recommendation.
As the government and Sharif brothers remained at an impasse over the terms of Nawaz’s travel abroad — specifically his return to Pakistan — the LHC had said that it would draft its own undertaking for the former premier’s travel and give to lawyers of both sides.
Following the court’s directions, the PML-N legal team had submitted a handwritten draft of the undertaking by Nawaz, which stated: “I do hereby undertake to return to Pakistan […] to face the process of law and justice as soon as I am declared healthy and fit to travel to Pakistan by my doctors.”
A separate undertaking was submitted by Shehbaz in which he had stated, “I undertake to facilitate the return of my brother on certification by doctors that he has regained his health and is fit to return to Pakistan.”