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Sharif’s “Bemari Card” fooling courts in Pakistan?

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News Analysis |

The ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are apparently using every possible means to delay the proceedings of accountability courts. But the judge has now taken it upon himself to ensure compliance. In a latest development, Sharifs’ legal counsel submitted an application to grant them a 7 day exemption from personal appearance since the ailing wife of Nawaz was not well. The accountability court has, however, rejected the plea and directed the Sharif’s to appear before the court on Wednesday.

Earlier, Sharif moved an application for exemption from personal attendance on June 19 and the court granted the exemption until June 23. Owing to Kulsoom’s deteriorating condition, a second application for exemption was filed by the applicant on June 25 and the court subsequently granted the same for three days.

Arguing before the court, Sharif’s legal team which included advocate Hashmi and Advocate Pervez informed the court that the former premier and Maryam had travelled to London on June 14, 2018, for the purpose of tending to ailing Kulsoom Nawaz, who is suffering from cancer and is undergoing treatment there.

Sharif hopes that if they somehow manage to come into power along with Asif Ali Zaradari then they may get relief from the courts. The courts, public and media in Pakistan are now catching on to the situation and the  Sharif family will have to face the music.

Advocate Hashmi contended that upon arrival in London, Sharif was “informed that his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest; that she had been put on a life-supporting ventilator; that she had been shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU); and that she was in a very critical condition”.

The counsel also explained before the court that Nawaz’s wife was suffering from serious illness. The counsel presented reports of her health obtained on 22nd and 27th June respectively. Hashmi informed the court that the medical report of June 27 once again confirms that the applicant’s wife is dependent on a ventilator. The report further says “last week it did look as if she might be able to be weaned, [but] her respiratory indices deteriorated and she has required pressure control ventilation”.

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The counsel further argued that the doctors who are treating Sharif’s wife are hopeful that she will be able to recover sufficiently during the current week for him to be able to communicate with her.

The prosecution, on the other hand, opposed the plea. Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi and Afzal Qureshi, both additional deputy prosecutor generals of the National Accountability Bureau, argued that since there is an improvement in Kulsoom’s health condition, and other family members including both of Sharif’s sons were already with their ailing mother, the court should not grant them further exemption.

Owing to Kulsoom’s deteriorating condition, a second application for exemption was filed by the applicant on June 25 and the court subsequently granted the same for three days.

Before moving to London, Nawaz Sharif’s legal counsel Khawaja Haris decided not to lead the case since it “was not possible for him to appear before the court on regular basis.” The Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered the accountability court to conclude its proceedings in the given time frame. In Pakistan, there is a common perception now that Sharif’s are using the “Bemari Card” (Illness card) to seek public support and to avoid the cases being heard in the courts.

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Nawaz and his aides want the decision of the references against him after the elections. But the SC has directed the court to wind-up the case as soon as possible. Sharif hopes that if they somehow manage to come into power along with Asif Ali Zaradari then they may get relief from the courts. The courts, public and media in Pakistan are now catching on to the situation and the  Sharif family will have to face the music.

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