Cabinet decides not to appeal court order allowing Sharif to leave Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs meeting of the Federal Cabinet at PM Office Islamabad on 19th November, 2019. (PID Photo)
Updated 20 November 2019

Cabinet decides not to appeal court order allowing Sharif to leave Pakistan

  • Accountability process is for everyone, says the law minister
  •  Government says collecting data to provide relief to elderly prisoners

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal cabinet decided on Tuesday it would not appeal a court verdict that allowed the country’s ailing former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to travel abroad for medical treatment.

“The cabinet has decided not to file an immediate appeal against a Lahore High Court verdict,” Federal Minister for Law Farogh Naseem said while addressing a news conference in Islamabad.

The Lahore High Court on Saturday permitted Sharif to leave Pakistan for four weeks on medical grounds, without imposing any other conditions. The court said he could also apply for an extension to the bail period if his treatment required him to stay abroad for a longer duration.

69-year-old three-time premier, Sharif on Tuesday left for London on an air ambulance. He is suffering from an autoimmune blood disorder and was recently released on an eight-week medical bail from a prison facility in Lahore where he was serving a seven-year sentence on corruption charges.

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 of Sharif’s rival, Prime Minister Imran Khan, had earlier said it would not stand in the way, though it demanded him to pay indemnity bonds of seven billion Pakistani rupees last week, which Sharif's party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), immediately rejected.

After days of political deadlock, the court has granted the PML-N founding leader four weeks to receive treatment after getting an undertaking from him and his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif that he would return to Pakistan soon after his medical recovery.

“We respect the court’s verdict …. The Pakistan High Commission in London and the British government will be informed about Nawaz Sharif’s illness and stay over there [for medical treatment],” the law minister said.

He added that the court would decide about the indemnity bond in January while clarifying that Prime Minister Khan did not have any personal “agenda” against the opposition. “We believe in accountability for all …. There is a need to make the criminal justice system more effective,” he continued.

Naseem said the government was collecting data of elderly and other prisoners involved in petty crime and “the cabinet will review all the cases [to provide them legal relief].”

Earlier in the day, in a veiled reference to Sharif’s departure to London for medical treatment, National Accountability Bureau Chairman Javed Iqbal said that while multiple people were sharing a single hospital bed in the country, there were others who were going abroad – “London or the US” – for treatment “even when they caught a cold.”

“Are the rest of us not humans …. God has created everyone equal,” he said while speaking at an event in Islamabad.

US ready to help Pakistan, India over Kashmir – Trump

Updated 3 min 42 sec ago

US ready to help Pakistan, India over Kashmir – Trump

  • Says Washington has never been closer with Islamabad as ‘we are right now’
  • PM Khan says Kabul was the main issue as it concerned both countries

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan met with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday where the two discussed the Afghan peace process and the ongoing situation in Kashmir.

In a brief address to the media, Trump said that the US is watching the developments between India and Pakistan over Kashmir “very closely”, and that Washington was prepared to help in the matter, if necessary.

“We were talking about Kashmir in relation to what’s going on with Pakistan and India that we can help, so certainly we’ll be helping. We are watching (developments) and following very closely,” Trump said, without adding any further details.

Khan, for his part, said that Afghanistan had been the “main issue... because it concerns the US and Pakistan.”

“Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with the Taliban and the government,” he said.

When questioned whether he would be including Pakistan in his itinerary during his scheduled trip to India, Trump said: “Well, we are meeting right now. I wanted to say hello,” before quickly adding that both US and Pakistan are getting along very well and “have never been closer than we are right now.”

Khan arrived in Davos on Tuesday where he is expected to hold talks with several world leaders on the sidelines of the forum which ends on January 23. His meeting with Trump was the third leadership-level interaction between Pakistan and the US since Khan’s visit to Washington in July last year.

He is visiting Davos on the invitation of Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF and is being accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, and his special assistants Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari and Dr. Moeed Yusuf for the trip.

According to a statement released on Tuesday, Khan is expected to give a keynote address during a special session of the WEF, in addition to interacting with CEOs and corporate leaders at the Pakistan Strategy Dialogue meet.

He will also speak to senior international journalists and editors during a session with the WEF’s International Media Council.

The significance of his visit was further highlighted by a Time Magazine cover — which features the Pakistani premier alongside four other world leaders in the publication’s special edition of the WEF — which released on Monday.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the WEF.

Khan’s office said that in keeping with this milestone, political leaders, business executives, heads of international organizations and civil society representatives will deliberate on contemporary economic, geopolitical, social and environmental issues.