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Friday, April 12, 2024

PTI Faces Criticism: First On Not Letting Nawaz Go & Now On Letting Him Go

The court has allowed ailing Nawaz to leave for London on Tuesday while thousands of prisoners are still waiting for the court to grant them relief. Did Nawaz’s case expose the dual standards of Pakistan’s criminal justice system?

Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister of Pakistan, is scheduled to leave for London on Tuesday. Mr. Sharif has been allowed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) to go abroad for his treatment after submitting an affidavit. However, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) government continues to face criticism for not being able to defend its position before the LHC.

Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Accountability, held a press conference on Sunday and explained the government’s position on the matter. At the outset, Mr. Akbar said that the government has immediately acted on the ruling given by the LHC for removal of former premier Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL) for traveling abroad for medical treatment.

He also explained the case that there were four basic points of the judicial decision. “The name of any convicted person cannot be taken out from the ECL; however only one-time permission was granted [to Nawaz Sharif] on humanitarian grounds,” he said, adding that the court has taken a written undertaking from them instead of an indemnity bond.

Read more: Medical Board Recommends Nawaz Sharif Needs To Go Abroad For Treatment

“The first point was only one-time permission should be granted, the second was that [Nawaz Sharif] would travel abroad for treatment, the third was that he would return back to face cases against him and the fourth was to guarantee his return [to Pakistan],” he maintained.

Parallel Legal Systems

Experts and political commentators believe that in Pakistan there are two parallel legal systems; one is for the poor and the other one is for the powerful. In the case of Nawaz Sharif, the courts acted in no time and granted him bail to travel abroad for his treatment.

At the same time, more than ten thousand prisoners who are suffering from different types of illnesses across Punjab approached the LHC to seek relief as given to Nawaz Sharif on humanitarian grounds. The LHC has directed the home department to look into the matter.

The citizens have shown surprise over the way the LHC decided the case and provided the former premier with unprecedented relief.

Cricketer Muhammad Hafeez also said that the court has finally accepted that “there is lack of medical assistance in Pakistan”.

Who Won the Case?

It is important to note that the federal cabinet last Tuesday granted in-principle “conditional” approval to remove Nawaz’s name from the ECL. The government had asked the Sharif family to pay Rs7 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 wants to take ransom from Sharif family in the name of indemnity bond.

Read more: Imran Khan: Does Not Hold Any Grudge Against Ailing Nawaz Sharif

“And today when two high courts have granted him [Nawaz] bail and said that he can avail treatment in Pakistan or abroad, the government is doing politics on the issue. Renowned lawyers of the country have criticized the [government] decision,” Shehbaz said.

Analysts believe that this is a win-win situation for both parties. The PML-N can claim to be the victor since the LHC has declared the condition of the government null and void. Similarly, PTI can tell its voters that it did not let Nawaz go without any conditions, the court did.