Pakistan’s ailing ex-PM rejects government’s conditions to travel abroad

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sits on a plane after landing at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore, Pakistan, July 13, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 November 2019

Pakistan’s ailing ex-PM rejects government’s conditions to travel abroad

  • Nawaz Sharif is in urgent need of medical treatment outside Pakistan, doctor says
  • Government conditionally allowed former premier a one-time travel abroad against surety bonds of $35.5 million with specified date of return

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ailing former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has rejected the government’s conditions placed on his travel abroad despite his rapidly deteriorating health, which his personal physician says requires urgent medical treatment outside Pakistan.
Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on Wednesday termed the government’s conditions as “illegal and unconstitutional” saying they were creating “unnecessary hurdles.”
“This is illegal and unconstitutional to link Nawaz Sharif’s travel abroad to certain conditions,” Marriyum Aurangzeb, PML-N spokesperson, said in a statement to media. “The government is playing a dangerous game with Nawaz Sharif’s health.”
She said the arrival of the air ambulance to transport Sharif has also been delayed in the deadlock.
Sharif, 69, suffers from serious immune disorder and is currently serving a seven-year sentence on corruption charges in a prison facility in Lahore. He was released on bail on October 29 due to sharp decline in his health condition.
The federal cabinet on Tuesday held marathon meetings to mull removing Sharif’s name from the country’s Exit Control List (ECL) and gave conditional approval for his travel abroad for medical treatment against surety bonds of $35.5 million, equivalent to the fines imposed on him by the Pakistani courts stressing that this would be a one-time travel with specified date of return.
“We all are concerned about the health of a VIP prisoner [Nawaz Sharif] … However, all cabinet members have unanimously decided the [legal] relief [to him] should be conditional and time-bound,” said Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing a press conference here after the cabinet meeting.
He was sentenced to seven years with $25 million fine and ten years in prison with $10.5 million fine last year in two separate corruption cases.
The former prime minister, who has dominated Pakistan’s politics for about three decades, denies all corruption allegations against him, claiming they are politically motivated.
“The government will facilitate him [Sharif] and allow his medical treatment abroad if his family submits guarantees and surety bonds equivalent to the fines imposed on him by the country’s courts,” Awan said. “All cabinet members [during the meeting] had a consensus on one thing: That there should be no unconditional relief [to Sharif].”
However, Sharif’s family refused to submit any surety bonds to the government.
“We have submitted surety bonds in the court for Sharif’s bail. Therefore, there is no need for us to submit any new bonds,” Attaullah Tarrar, PML-N deputy-secretary, told media.
Last week, Sharif’s younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, had pleaded the interior ministry to strike off the former premier’s name from the no-fly list and let him travel abroad for treatment of his multiple ailments. An air ambulance in this regard is also due to arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday, confirmed the party spokesperson.
Sharif was earlier scheduled to fly to the United Kingdom on Monday through a private airline, but his ticket was canceled since the government had not removed his name from the ECL.


Patient Abid cuts his way into cricket history at age 32

Updated 16 December 2019

Patient Abid cuts his way into cricket history at age 32

  • He has long been knocking at the doors of international cricket
  • Abid is now the oldest Pakistani player to score a century on debut

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: Nobody can accuse 32-year-old Abid Ali of not seizing his chances when given them.
Pakistan drew its first test at home in 10 years against Sri Lanka at the Pindi Cricket Stadium after rain washed out more than half of the match, but not before Abid had smashed a century on debut. He was batting at the same venue where Pakistan great Younis Khan scored a century on his test debut in 2000 — also against Sri Lanka.
Abid completed a unique double, becoming the batsman in the history of the sport to score a century in both his ODI and test debuts.
More than 12,000 cricket-starved fans — popularly known as ‘The Pindi Boys’ — enjoyed every moment of the opener’s innings under bright sunshine. He hit an unbeaten 109, featuring 11 fours. Six of those boundaries were his favorite cut shots.
Abid has long been knocking at the doors of international cricket but had to wait patiently until he got his chance in March this year during the limited-overs series.
A scintillating ODI century against Australia in the United Arab Emirates was not enough to convince the selectors that he was ready for the all-important World Cup in England.
But Abid didn’t lose heart and continued to polish his skills at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. He was among the 16-man squad which toured Australia for the recent two-test series but couldn’t fit in new coach Misbah-ul-Haq’s plans. Pakistan returned home after heavy losses at Brisbane and Adelaide, where Abid watched from the sidelines.
Abid’s hopes were raised once again when he was selected for the home series against Sri Lanka, but there were still pundits who didn’t believe he’d get a chance in Rawalpindi.
“I had never grumbled whenever I was ignored,” Abid said. “I have patience. I believed that my time will come ... Thankfully I got my chance and what else you could ask for than a hundred on debut. I waited a long for this very day and here I am.”
Only 5.2 overs could be bowled on the third day and the entire fourth day was washed out due to wet conditions.
Bright sunshine welcomed players on the last day and Abid seized the opportunity Sunday after Sri Lanka declared its first innings at 308-6 once Dhananjaya de Silva had scored his sixth test hundred.
Together with Pakistan’s most reliable batsman Babar Azam, who scored his third test hundred, Abid enthralled fans under perfect batting conditions.
Abid, now the oldest Pakistani player to score a century on debut, said he didn’t want to be compared with the greats of the game.
“I am an ordinary player and I can’t match great players,” he said. “I am Abid Ali and please see me as Abid Ali only.”
But one of those greats has already acknowledged that a star is on the rise in the Pakistan team.
“We call him Legend” in the dressing room, Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis tweeted after Abid’s century.