Government will not allow Maryam Nawaz to leave for London

The government is apparently not willing to allow Maryam Nawaz to leave the country. But the question is whether the government will be able to stand by its decision or not. Importantly, will media create a compulsive environment on humanitarian grounds to force the government to allow Maryam to leave for London?

Government

The government has made it clear that it will not remove Maryam Nawaz’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL) and won’t allow her to go abroad. Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda said that the federal government shall not allow Maryam to leave the country. The minister was among others who did not agree to allow the former premier to leave for London. Nawaz Sharif, convicted in a corruption case, left the country under health pretexts.

The federal minister said that during a federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday Vawda had addressed the prime minister and told him that the government won’t tolerate the ‘platelet drama’ for a second time. “Every time the PML-N leader runs away and the workers get caught. This time if the name is removed from the ECL then we will challenge it in the courts,” he said.

Maryam was arrested in August 2018 after a corruption reference was filed against her at the National Accountability Bureau related to the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.

It is worth noting that the Lahore High Court (LHC) has declared the PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz’s petition seeking the removal of her name from Exit Control List (ECL) as inadmissible and directed her to approach the interior ministry in this regard. Maryam wanted to seek some relief on “on compassionate and humanitarian grounds”. The court has suggested the legal counsel for Maryam to approach the relevant forum.

Read more: Maryam Nawaz’s account has a lot of money but she has no idea how

The legal counsel for Maryam Nawaz told the court about the complexity of the matter. The government would never give the decision in Maryam’s favor as it doesn’t want her to travel outside the country, he went on to say. Justice Ali Baqir remarked, “You should first contact the interior ministry and wait for its decision, then approach the judiciary.”

Noting that her father was shifted abroad on account of his critical health condition, the petition said Maryam was “also entitled to relief on compassionate and humanitarian grounds”. It said after her mother’s demise, it was Maryam who had been looking after her ailing father “who is much dependent upon her”.

Maryam had requested the LHC to declare the memorandum through which her name was placed on the ECL last year as “illegal, without lawful authority, void ab-initio and of no legal effect”, and direct the government to delete her name from the ECL.

It is important to note that the federal cabinet recently granted in-principle “conditional” approval to remove Nawaz’s name from the ECL. The government had asked the Sharif family to pay Rs.7 billion as surety bonds — equivalent to the fines imposed on him by an accountability court in two corruption cases Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield properties — in which he was convicted.

The PML-N leadership rejected the offer. While addressing a press conference after consultation meeting of senior party leaders in Lahore, Shehbaz Sharif said that the incumbent government of PTI wanted to take ransom from the Sharif family in the name of indemnity bond.

The Lahore High Court on Saturday (usually an off day) allowed former premier Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for four weeks for medical treatment, saying the duration could be extended based on medical reports.

Read more: Maryam Nawaz gets bail to attend to Nawaz, at the cost of her passport

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem, started hearing the petition at 11 am and after multiple breaks and back and forth, delivered the verdict close to 6 pm.

In the court-approved undertaking, Nawaz assured that he would return “within four weeks” ─ a time frame that was missing in the initial handwritten undertaking.

Political experts believe that the government is not in a position to allow Maryam Nawaz to leave for London since it may have a heavy political cost for the premier and his cabinet.

There is also a growing perception that the elites in Pakistan are given special treatment by the government and the courts. Irshad Bhatti, a prominent political commentator, alluded to the same and noted:

https://twitter.com/hassan_k82/status/1203723487619223552?s=20

There is also a strong view that the establishment does not want Maryam to lead the party. Therefore, she may be allowed to leave for London and remain there for some years. Interestingly, PTI’s central leader Jahangir Tareen has recently predicted that the time to minus PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz has arrived.

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