Rizwan Shehzad |
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif sought on Thursday the Supreme Court’s permission to allow him to get medical treatment from medical practitioners in the United Kingdom. The three-time ex-premier through his counsel Khawaja Haris has approached the top court requesting it to review its earlier order which restricted him to get his medical treatment in Pakistan only.
In line with the opinions of the consultants and experts, the counsel stated in the petition, “the only feasible option available to the Petitioner is to be treated by the same set of medical practitioners who had been treating him earlier in UK”.
On March 26, the apex court had released Sharif on bail for six weeks but “made it clear that during this period the petitioner shall not leave or be allowed to leave the country”. While requesting the court to review its earlier order, Haris stated that restricting Sharif to get his medical treatment in Pakistan only merits review.
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Before being released on SC orders, Sharif was serving a seven-year prison sentence awarded to him by an accountability court in the Al Azizia corruption reference of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
In the petition, Haris said that Sharif was facing complicated and life threatening nature of the ischemic heart disease, carotid artery disease, lymphadenopathy and renal artery stenosis coupled with co-morbid diseases including blood pressure, Type II diabetes mellitus and third-stage chronic kidney disease. He said that the medical professionals in Pakistan have recommended that he should be treated by the practitioners who were earlier seeing him in the UK.
Interestingly, the petition has drawn court’s attention to its written order wherein the verbal directives of the court allowing Sharif to apply for bail extension by approaching the Islamabad High Court (IHC) have been omitted.
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The petition reads that while orally announcing the order, SC had read out the terms on which the petitioner was being released on bail upon suspension of his sentence and Sharif was allowed to reach IHC if he required any extension in his bail. “It is submitted that this may be due to a typographical error, but nevertheless remains an error meriting rectification in the Order dates March 26 2019.”
In the review petition, Sharif has prayed to the apex court to modify the March 26 order and allow him to travel to UK abroad for medical treatment.
SC’s Bail Terms for Sharif
While allowing Sharif’s petition to be released on bail for a certain period, the Supreme Court had set certain conditions. The conditions said that Sharif shall not leave or be allowed to leave the country, bail will automatically be cancelled upon expiry of six weeks from date of release and Sharif will have to surrender custody voluntarily, failing which he will be arrested.
Also, the court had said, he would not be allowed to apply for further bail till he surrenders his custody and he was allowed treatment from medical practitioners and to avail medical facilities of his choice in Pakistan.
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Moreover, the order said, if during the period of his bail, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rules adversely in the appeal filed by Sharif before the IHC, the IHC will have full authority to decide how and when to arrest him.
Sharif, Panama and Courts
Sharif remained prime minister of Pakistan from 1990 to 1993, from 1997 until a coup in 1999 and from 2013 till the Supreme Court removed him from office in July 2017 on account of failing to disclose part of a salary drawn from his son’s company located in UAE.
Later, the Supreme Court ruled that July 2017 decision to oust Sharif meant that he will have to stay away from politics for the rest of his life. He was ousted by SC after the Panama Papers leaks revealed that his children allegedly owned offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and that they used them to buy properties in London, UK.
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Panama Papers, a trove of leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, implicated dozens of politicians and powerful international figures in shady offshore business dealings. Sharif was the second world leader, along with the former prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, to resign as a result of the leak.
After his cases were sent to an accountability court in Islamabad for trial proceedings, he was convicted in two NAB cases – Avenfield Apartments and Al Azizia Steel Mills references – for not disclosing sources of income.
Sharif has always denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the charges are politically motivated. After being convicted in the London properties reference by the accountability court, the IHC suspended his sentence until the final decision on his appeal.
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In the second case, he was jailed for seven years when the accountability court ruled that he was unable to show where he obtained the money he used to buy the Al-Azizia steel mill in Saudi Arabia. Sharif has challenged both convictions and the appeals process in both cases is ongoing.