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.


China’s Sinopharm ties up with Karachi University to supply coronavirus vaccines to Pakistan

Updated 14 August 2020

China’s Sinopharm ties up with Karachi University to supply coronavirus vaccines to Pakistan

  • Pakistan would conduct Phase 1 trials and then move rapidly to the final-stage Phase 3 trial, which requires tens of thousands of volunteers
  • Pakistan would receive enough vaccine to cover around a fifth of its population in the initial months of production

ISLAMABAD: State-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group, also known as Sinopharm, has tied up with Pakistan’s Karachi University’s International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences to supply coronavirus vaccines to Pakistan, international media has reported, quoting Pakistani government officials.
The developing world— which often lacks both a pharmaceutical industry to develop, test and produce vaccines and the money to purchase them from elsewhere— has been forced to seek supplies from allies or from international groups attempting to obtain vaccines for poor countries.
China hasn’t been a major vaccine producer globally. It needs to test its Covid-19 vaccines outside its borders, because coronavirus cases in China have dwindled and it is harder to find the population diversity required.
“Pakistan would get the vaccine on a priority basis,” an official involved in forging the agreement told the Wall Street Journal.
Pakistan would conduct Phase 1 trials of the vaccine and then move rapidly to the final-stage Phase 3 trial, which requires tens of thousands of volunteers. If the vaccine is safe and effective, Pakistan would receive enough vaccine to cover around a fifth of its population in the initial months of production, according to Pakistani officials who said financial terms hadn’t yet been worked out.
Pakistan, one of China’s closest allies in the developing world, will receive enough doses early in distribution to vaccinate the most vulnerable among its population of 220 million, including the elderly, health-care workers and people with medical conditions associated with serious cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
About one-fifth of the country’s population could be covered by the allocation, the officials said.
The agreement, among the first China has reached as part of its efforts to test its coronavirus vaccine in populations beyond its borders, comes amid a global competition for access to vaccines that are now entering trials and expected to come to market in coming months.
Negotiations are under way with a second Chinese company to trial its vaccine in Pakistan, officials said.