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.


Pakistan says Afghan cross-border fire kills soldier

Updated 22 September 2020

Pakistan says Afghan cross-border fire kills soldier

  • In July UN report said more than 6,000 Pakistani insurgents were hiding in Afghanistan, most belonging to the Pakistani Taliban
  • Such attacks have raised fears that the Pakistani Taliban are regrouping

PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s military on Tuesday said a soldier was killed in the country’s northwest by fire from across the Afghan border, a sign of increasing violence in an area that until recent years served as a base for Pakistani and foreign militants.
The attack late Monday hit a border security post in Bajur district, a former tribal region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The military statement said the shooting came from the Afghan side of the frontier and provided no further details.
The brief statement said Pakistan “has been consistently raising the issue for border management on other side to avoid use of Afghanistan soil against Pakistan.”
The two sides often accuse each other of turning a blind eye to militants operating along the porous frontier, which stretches 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) across rugged mountainous terrain.
In July, Pakistan said militants killed a soldier in a cross-border attack on a security post in Bajur district.
That same month, a United Nations report said more than 6,000 Pakistani insurgents were hiding in Afghanistan, most belonging to the Pakistani Taliban. Also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, they are a separate insurgent group from the Afghan Taliban, although Pakistan’s militant groups are often interlinked with those across the border in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s border areas served as a base for the Pakistani Taliban and other militants until a few years ago, when the army said it cleared the region of insurgents, but occasional attacks have continued.
Such attacks have raised fears that the Pakistani Taliban are regrouping. Last week, the insurgents released a statement asking residents to vacate the former tribal regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as the group plans to launch more attacks on security forces.
On Saturday, two Pakistani soldiers were killed in a shootout with militants during a search operation in the province’s North Waziristan district, around 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Bajur district.
Earlier this month, the Pakistani Taliban took responsibility for a powerful roadside bombing in North Waziristan that targeted a military vehicle, killing three soldiers and wounding four.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share an internationally recognized border known as the Durand Line, which was drawn in the 19th century when the British dominated South Asia. Kabul has never recognized the boundary.