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Federal cabinet granted in-principle conditional approval to Nawaz Sharif

13 November, 2019

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The federal cabinet on Tuesday granted in-principle “conditional” approval to remove ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL), allowing him to go abroad for treatment, but the former premier has reportedly refused to avail the facility.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government had in principle allowed former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for treatment after submitting surety bonds for his return after recovery.

It would be one-time approval on submission of indemnity bonds by the Sharif family or the fine imposed by courts in the cases filed against Nawaz Sharif by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), she said while briefing the media on the decisions of the federal cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Dr Firdous said some cabinet members had reservations on permitting Nawaz Sharif to go abroad on medical grounds. However, the prime minister considered the request of opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif on humanitarian grounds and gave his approval while also keeping in view the majority members’ support, she added.

It would be conditional and time-barred relief and a proposal containing parameters and criteria for Nawaz’s return to the country after his treatment abroad had been sent to the Sharif family, Dr Firdous said.

She said Law Minister Farogh Naseem shared the recommendations given by the 14-member medical board examining Nawaz, the opinion of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and his own view with the cabinet regarding allowing the former prime minister to proceed abroad.

The special assistant said the cabinet considered the opinion of the NAB, point of view of minister for law and justice, and the legal precedents. The prime minister then conducted a vote, in which a “majority” of the cabinet members favoured removing Nawaz’s name from the ECL, she revealed.

She said the government had successfully achieved its targets of revenue, taxes, economic stability, industrialisation, export orientation strategy, foreign reserves, remittances, positive economic indicators and inflation. The economic turnaround, she said, would help control the inflation and the people would be its ultimate beneficiary.

On the other hand, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif refused to go abroad after the ‘conditional permission’ was granted by the government to remove his name from the ECL on Tuesday.

Sources claimed that a one-and-a-half hour meeting was held between the former prime minister and his brother, Shehbaz Sharif, at Jati Umra.

ImranIt has not yet been confirmed whether the Sharif brothers will leave for London or not. Sources within the Sharif family also stated that an air ambulance had also not been called to transport Nawaz from Pakistan to London for medical treatment. During the hearing on Tuesday, the NAB refused to give an opinion on the issue, saying that the federal cabinet had the authority to remove anyone’s name from the no-fly list.

The accountability bureau said it had no objection to the government’s letter and neither had it given approval for it.

The development comes after the cabinet sub-committee on ECL convened earlier in the day to prepare recommendations on the matter of removal of Nawaz’s name from the no-fly list.

After nearly five hours of deliberations, the meeting ended without any decision, with Law Minister Naseem terming the issue “a bit complex”.

The minister told reporters that the sub-committee would meet again at 9:30pm, as participants of the meeting had been asked to bring along missing documentation.

It may be mentioned here that the prime minister reportedly rejected any speculation that the government and the former prime minister had made a deal. “The accountability process will continue, the impression that a deal has been reached is wrong,” the prime minister was quoted as saying. Sources further disclosed that the prime minister said that he had himself checked and confirmed that Nawaz was very ill.

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