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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Nawaz’s bail on medical grounds paves way for ten thousand petitions

Granting bail to Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds has put the courts in a tough position since a great number of prisoners want reliefs on the same grounds. Will Pakistan’s criminal justice system ensure to treat everyone equally?

A bail petition of ten thousand prisoners was filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on medical grounds on Monday. The petitioner has contended that since the precedent has been set, everyone who is ill needs to be given relief by the courts. Analysts believe that this is the time when the courts will have to decide whether they will treat the common man the same way they are treating the former prime minister.

According to details, the LHC Justice Rasaal Hasan Syed heard the bail petition of the prisoners. The plaintiff has taken the stance that the more than ten thousand prisoners are in jail across the country who suffering from different types of diseases. The petitioner also stated that the prisoners have no facility for their proper treatment in the jails. In the bail petition, it is requested that the other prisoners should be granted bails on medical ground like the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A few days ago, Nawaz Sharif was granted bail by the LHC and Islamabad High Court (IHC) for being critically ill. The medical call board also advised the government to let Nawaz leave for London for his treatment. This generated a controversy in Pakistan where many people asked if an ordinary prisoner falls ill, will he be allowed to get treatment of his choice from his desired hospital.

Petition to Bar Nawaz from Leaving for London

On the other hand, another petition has been filed in the LHC to bar former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from going abroad. The petitioner adopted a stance that Nawaz Sharif was involved in money laundering and is facing multiple cases. Allowing Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad is discrimination against other ill inmates, the petition said.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa once asked how everyone who was arrested by NAB fell ill and remarked that NAB should construct a state-of-the-art hospital to treat those people

The petitioner has accused the former premier of money laundering and requested the court not to let him leave Pakistan. The petition reads as “Nawaz Sharif is going out of the country as he wants to transfer his properties, made through laundered money, to his children who are settled abroad. He caused irreparable damage to the national exchequer”.

He further said that since there is a pending case before the IHC, there is no point in letting him go abroad for his treatment. “A money laundering case against Nawaz Sharif is pending at the Lahore High Court; therefore, the permission to travel abroad should be conditional to the LHC directives. He should be barred from leaving Pakistan until the court order,” it stated.

 What led to Nawaz’s Conviction?

The PML-N supreme leader was sentenced to seven years in prison and was fined Rs1.5 billion in the Al-Azizia reference by an accountability court on December 24, 2018. However, he was acquitted in another reference related to Flagship Investments. He was imprisoned in Adiyala Jail and shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail on his request.

Nawaz Sharif was granted bail for six weeks by the Supreme Court to provide him with the opportunity to get his treatment done at his desired hospital. The bail expired on May 7 as the apex court rejected his review petition seeking permission to go abroad for the treatment.

Read more: Nawaz Will Go Abroad if NAB Thinks He Should: Nawaz’s Troubles

However, Naeem ul Haque, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, recently announced that the government had seen Nawaz’s reports and decided to allow the ailing former prime minister to travel to London for his treatment. “It is the right of every Pakistani to have themselves treated as they see fit. The government has no reservations over Nawaz seeking treatment abroad,” he said

Nawaz was scheduled to leave for London on Sunday but his ticket was cancelled due to procedural delays.

Illness Card: An Excuse for the Rich?

Political commentators who spoke to GVS believe that while Nawaz may be genuinely sick, there are speculations that this sympathetic atmosphere is being created on purpose so that he can leave for London while cases against him remain pending in courts. Those who suspect a deal point towards the past. If history of Pakistan is anything to go by, then reports of a deal might as well be true.

No politically powerful person in Pakistan’s history has ever been punished in the court of law in a corruption case; convictions even if obtained in lower courts are almost always overturned by superior courts. System simply does not have the will to punish powerful people- they argue. In this case, media lobbies, doctors and other actors active behind the scenes m might be pressurizing Prime Minister Imran Khan to let Nawaz travel to London under a medical emergency, it’s being said.

Read more: Uncertainty Prevails as Nawaz’s Name Remains on ECL

Interestingly, in Pakistan’s politics, ailment has become a new political tool to seek public sympathy and avoid all sorts of inquiries and tough questions. From Dr. Asim to the former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar everyone used the ailment card to avoid courts and get public sympathy. It is considered an easy task to blackmail the naive people on emotional grounds.

These are not the first instances where the opposition parties are using ‘illnesses’ to seek political concessions. In Pakistan, it has become a trend that influential people fall ill when they are arrested due to some illegal activities. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa once asked how everyone who was arrested by NAB fell ill and remarked that NAB should construct a state-of-the-art hospital to treat those people. He further said that some people were exploiting the law that allows prisoners with health problems to be transferred to a hospital. “It has become a regular practice,” he claimed. “Medical boards grant favors to people accused of crimes,” said Justice Khosa.