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Friday, July 19, 2024

Lahore High Court accepts Shehbaz Sharif’s plea, disposes of petition

Justice Baqir Najafi disposed of the civil miscellaneous application moved by the PML-N president after he sought to withdraw it. A government counsel opposed Shehbaz’s plea, saying the court should not allow him to withdraw the application until the federal government files its reply.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday disposed of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif’s plea challenging the government’s move to place his name on a blacklist and seeking implementation of a court order that permitted him to travel abroad on medical grounds.

Justice Baqir Najafi disposed of the civil miscellaneous application moved by the PML-N president after he sought to withdraw it.

The court observed that any application could be withdrawn any time as per the law. The applicant could approach the relevant forum against the government’s decision to place his name on the Exit Control List (ECL), it added.

A government counsel opposed Shehbaz’s plea, saying the court should not allow him to withdraw the application until the federal government files its reply.

Shehbaz’s lawyer Amjad Pervaiz stated that the government placed the PML-N leader’s name on the no-fly list on May 17. He said his client wanted to withdraw his application due to his name added to the ECL, he added.

On May 17, Justice Najafi had given Shehbaz one-time permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.

However, FIA’s immigration officials at the Lahore airport barred him from boarding a flight to Qatar due to his name put on the Provincial National Identification List (PNIL). Subsequently, Shehbaz moved the plea in the court for implementation of its May 7 order.

NRO given?

There is a growing perception that Nawaz Sharif went to London after signing a deal with the establishment. Those who suspect a deal point towards the past. If the history of Pakistan is any witness to help then it may be true. No politically powerful person in Pakistan’s history has ever been punished in a court of law; convictions even if obtained in lower courts are almost always overturned by superior courts. The system simply does not have the will to punish powerful people- they argue.

Some analysts are of the view that the premier is not in a position to give NRO to the Opposition. These analysts believe that the NRO has already been given to the PML-N. Nawaz Sharif is in London and delivering speeches to target the government and army. Nawaz’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, was not only granted bail but also given space to run an anti-government campaign.

What is NRO?

On October 5, 2007, the-then Pakistani President and Army Chief, General Pervez Musharraf, had enforced the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which had granted amnesty to politicians, political workers, and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, money laundering, murders, and terrorism etc between January 1, 1986, and October 12, 1999 — the time between two Martial Law stints in Pakistan.

The NRO came into existence just 40 days before the stipulated five-year tenure of the PML-Q was supposed to end.

The NRO was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on December 16, 2009, but not before it had benefited 8,041 allegedly tainted people, including 34 politicians and three ambassadors.

How Nawaz went to London?

It is important to note that the federal cabinet 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 a 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 an 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.

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.

Read More: Nawaz Sharif should not go outside, suggest doctors

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. The question can PM Imran Khan give NRO seems to have lost its worth as the available circumstantial evidence suggest that a deal might have been signed between Sharifs and the power that be.