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.


Pakistani baby born prematurely in Makkah reaches home, meets parents after full year

Updated 9 min 10 sec ago

Pakistani baby born prematurely in Makkah reaches home, meets parents after full year

  • Abdullah was born prematurely on January 9 last year to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims with medical complications
  • Parents say treatment for baby’s medical condition was paid for entirely by the Saudi government for a full year

ISLAMABAD: A baby born prematurely to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims in Makkah last year was returned on Friday evening to his parents in Quetta-- a full year after his birth and following his successful treatment in Saudi Arabia.

Bibi Hajra and her husband Ghulam Haider were forced to leave their baby behind after their Umrah visas expired following the birth of their son on Jan. 9 last year-- a premature birth with the baby weighing only 1 kg and suffering from severe medical complications at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Makkah.

The baby, named Abdullah, was placed on a ventilator and stayed on in the hospital under the observation of doctors and consultants specialized in neonatal intensive care for a period of 46 days.

After this, the child was transferred to special care under the supervision of the Social Service Department.

“We had to return to Pakistan and leave our baby in the hospital as our visas expired... and then could not go back due to coronavirus,” a tearful Hajra told Arab News on Saturday from Pakistan’s southwestern Quetta city. 

“Initially, I was very worried about my baby but the hospital administration remained in touch with us. They used to show me Abdullah on video and also send us his pictures,” she said.

“We are thankful to the Saudi government, hospital authorities, doctors, nurses and Pakistani consulate in Jeddah for their cooperation,” she added.

On Thursday, the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Makkah handed Abdullah over to a delegation from the Pakistani consulate after taking care of him for a full year. 

Abdullah’s father, Haider, who is a dispenser at a small clinic in Quetta, also expressed his gratitude to the Saudi government and the Pakistani mission for their support.

“Our child remained under treatment for one year but we have not even been charged a single penny,” Haider told Arab News.

“All the expenses were taken care of by the Saudi government,” he said. 

Pakistan Consulate Jeddah officials hand over one-year-old baby, Abdullah, to his parents at Quetta airport on Jan 15, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan Consulate Jeddah)

The return of Abdullah to Quetta, he continued, had been arranged by the Pakistani consulate in Jeddah without any cost incurred to his family.

“Pakistan consulate was in contact with the hospital as well as with the parents of the child. They (hospital) provided all the medical facilities and kept Abdullah in complete care. Now he is absolutely fine and one year old,” the community welfare attaché of the Pakistani consulate, Saqib Ali Khan, who received the boy from the hospital on Thursday, told Arab News on the phone from Jeddah.

“When hospital administration assured us that the child is completely fine...we sent him back to Quetta through a delegation and (he) has been received by the parents,” he said.

Khan thanked the Saudi government, the Saudi Ministry of Health and the medical team at the hospital for providing the child with special care, and for keeping in touch with his family in order to reassure them over the entire year of their separation.