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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Shehbaz Sharif to leave for London: NRO given to PML-N?

Shehbaz Sharif is likely to leave for London on medical grounds. There is a strong perception that the NRO has been given to the former ruling party despite strong opposition from Prime Minister Imran Khan. Is it true?

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was offloaded from a Qatar-bound flight at Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore early Saturday morning. FIA immigration officers barred him from boarding the flight that was scheduled to take off at 4:50 am.

Shehbaz was issued a boarding pass with his luggage scanned but was stopped from boarding the plane due to his name still being on the blacklist, claim sources.

On Friday, the Lahore High Court granted one-time permission to the PML-N leader to travel abroad for medical treatment. After which, he booked a flight to Qatar.

When Shehbaz reached the airport to fly out of the country, the immigration officers told him that they could not allow him to travel abroad because his name was still on the blacklist in their system.

The Lahore High Court in its conditional permission allowed Shahbaz Sharif to go abroad from May 08 to July 05. The court in its six-page written order said that Shehbaz could not be barred from travelling abroad even if his name is on the blacklist. His name is currently not on the ECL, the court said in its order while adjourning the hearing of the case for July 05.

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.

Read More: Does the government really want to bring Nawaz Sharif back to Pakistan?

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.