A ‘healthy’ deal for Nawaz Sharif

he ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been allowed to leave the country to get medical treatment from the doctors of his own choice in London but his stay outside Pakistan is subject to extension of his eight week long bail which will lapse by the end of December.

In December last year Sharif was convicted by the accountability court in Al Azizia reference and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Sharif has been set free at the time when Jamia Ulem e Islam Fazal (JUI-F) was planning lockdown of the federal capital with the aim to send prime minister Imran Khan home.

Coincidentally, the government has also has given a green light to his foreign travel for medical treatment.

Medically speaking, sudden drop of platelets count that led the Islamabad High Court to grant him limited time bail for 08 weeks as the doctors termed condition of ailing ex-premier as “critical and serious”. His personal physician Dr Adnan Khawaja tweeted “Former PM #NawazSharif remains critical. The treating doctors tried to reduce the Steroids dose being given to him but unfortunately resulted in drop in Platelet count again which has come down to 38*10^3/uL”

In another tweet he said “The cause needs to be diagnosed & established without delay. Severe existent co-morbidities (IHD, ECVD, DM, HTN, CKD3) has added to the seriousness of the nature of critical illness, where a very delicate balance has to be maintained between coagulation & anti-coagulation to sustain fragile unstable health status.”

As far as legal aspects of this case is concerned, the counsel of Mr Sharif Khawaja Haris presented a plethora of judgments in which the superior courts have granted bail to convicts after suspending their sentence.

He was seeking the bail without any time cap and open ended since he was of the view that Pakistan lacks the medical facility where Mr Sharif can be treated since he is facing multiple diseases therefore he is required to be treated in multi disciplinary medical facility.

However, the Supreme Court in the case of Nawaz Sharif has introduced a unique mechanism in the recent past and granted him bail for 6 weeks. The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khan Khosa allowed Sharif six weeks bail on medical grounds. Sharif was again taken to custody after expiry of the one and half month long freedom.

Justice Khosa was heading the bench that heard Panama Papers case and he had disqualified Sharif prior to formation of the six members joint investigation team having members from Federal Investigation Agency, National Accountability Bureau, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, State Bank, Inter Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence.

The JIT probed the case against Sharif family and on July 28, 2017 the Supreme Court on its report removed Sharif and directed NAB to file references against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz, retired Captain Mohammad Safdar and Ishaq Dar.

The additional prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau that prosecuted Sharif in three references suggested the IHC during the hearing of Sharif’s bail case that since the Supreme Court has laid down criteria for granting bail to Sharif on medical grounds therefore IHC should follow the same.

Traditionally, in the cases where the bail is granted for medical reasons, it continued till final outcome of the pending appeal or trial. Only recently IHC granted bail to an alleged narcotics smuggler who was caught with 3.6kg hashish till conclusion of his pending trial though the accused was not facing any life threatening disease and was suffering from piles.

The court was reluctant to suspend the sentence of Sharif as it may be correlated with a deal. Though, the government as well as Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz both have denied the deal but as the PML-N has given cold shoulder to JUI-F led Azadi march one can conclude that they have mended ties with powerful military establishment. Reportedly, PML-N has been offered that Nawaz Sharif can get medical treatment abroad where Maryam Nawaz will accompany him and take care of him till the next General Elections in which she may participate subject to completing the requirement of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

In the meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif will be responsible to run the party in Pakistan. Since, Shahbaz is ‘sensible’ enough and knows well how to maintain working relationship with the establishment, therefore, it is expected that the PML-N’s chapter of confrontation with the power corridors may close and it will give a rebirth to the otherwise lost era of friendship.

However, it is Nawaz Sharif’s ‘health’ that will determine whether to continue these ‘concessions’ for two months or send him back to jail to serve sentence until a decision on his appeal against conviction in Al Azizia reference is announced.

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