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IHC ends Nawaz’s hopes for a quick relief

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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed a bail petition filed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds in Al-Azizia reference case. An IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani announced the verdict while the detailed judgment was uploaded on the website of the IHC. Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders on Monday vowed to file an appeal against the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision.

The nine-page judgment was very detailed in its observation on Nawaz’s health.  Four reasons have been seen as the basis of the decision:

1 -The IHC cites a recent judgment by the Supreme Court in the case, Tallat Ishaq Vs. National Accountability Bureau (NAB), in which the apex court wrote that a high court may grant bail to an accused person arrested under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 “in extraordinary circumstances and not in the run of the mill cases or as a matter of course.”

Nawaz Sharif’s defense counsel Khawaja Haris had told the court that the medical boards examining Sharif’s health have recommended his further medical examination after concluding that he has been suffering from various diseases.

2 – In another case, the SC stated that a high court shall exercise this “power sparingly in rare and exceptional circumstances for valid reasons to be recorded in writing” or in cases of extreme hardship.

3 – The IHC judges noted that none of the medical reports of Nawaz Sharif suggest that his continued incarceration would be detrimental to his life. “In fact, the reports of Board of Doctors and various Teams constituted, are indicative of the fact that petitioner is receiving best possible medical treatment available to any individual in Pakistan.”

4 – The court then added that state authorities followed the Prisons Rules and moved the convicted prisoner to a hospital outside the prison for operative or other special treatment without lapse.

Read more: NAB asks IHC to dismiss Nawaz’s bail request

The judgment ended with remarks “For the above reasons, we find the instant petition to be without merit and the same is accordingly dismissed.” Earlier on February 20, the bench reserved the decision regarding the suspension of seven-year sentence awarded to Sharif.

Nawaz Sharif’s defense counsel Khawaja Haris had told the court that the medical boards examining Sharif’s health have recommended his further medical examination after concluding that he has been suffering from various diseases.

Furthermore, Mr. Haris told the court that his health has been deteriorating over time while suffering from kidney, hypertension, diabetes and cardiac issues, and angiography was required for his treatment. He pleaded with the court to suspend the sentence of Sharif to enable him to acquire timely treatment from the doctor of his choice. He stressed that it was his fundamental right to get medical treatment from the doctor and the hospital of his choice.

Many were citing the “clean chit” given to his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif by the Lahore High Court that saw him freed from NAB custody, to be the start of legal reliefs to the Sharif clan.

Khawaja Haris also claimed that the provincial government of Punjab had hidden certain facts from the court in the earlier hearing. Contrarily, the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) prosecutor strongly opposed the arguments put forward by Khawaja Haris and said Sharif’s medical reports did not suggest that his life was in danger while being imprisoned.

Meanwhile, Sharif has been awaiting angiography at the Jinnah Hospital in Lahore. In this regard, recommendations of a special medical board formed by the government have been sent to the Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for further proceedings in the matter.

The decision seems to have ended all hopes of a “quick relief” for the disqualified Prime Minister. Many were citing the “clean chit” given to his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif by the Lahore High Court that saw him freed from NAB custody, to be the start of legal reliefs to the Sharif clan. The decision of bail rejection, however, has punctured the propaganda campaign of the PMLN who were trying to portray Nawaz as a prisoner of conscience.

Read more: Nawaz should be shifted to hospital: Medical board

The recent event seems to have made the case of Shahbaz stronger for PMLN leadership. With Nawaz still in prison and Shahbaz back in business, this would allow the younger brother to strengthen himself in the party at the cost of Nawaz.

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