On Friday, the Lahore High Court granted Shahbaz Sharif, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, “one-time” permission to obtain treatment abroad.
A hearing to delete his name from the government’s no-fly list was held today, presided over by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi.
Shahbaz had petitioned the court for permission to get care in another country as a cancer survivor. Shahbaz claimed in his petition, filed through Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar and Advocate Amjad Pervez, that after being granted bail in the Ashiana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases, he went abroad and returned.
During today’s court hearings, the PML-N president produced a return ticket indicating his intention to do the same.
The government’s counsel argued that care could be received in Pakistan, but Amjad Pervez, the defence counsel, claimed that his client had obtained bail in all three cases against him — the Ramzan Sugar Mills, Ashiana Housing Scheme, and properties outside established sources of income cases — and now wishes to exercise his right as a Pakistani citizen and continue care in another country.
It was also argued that a consultation with Shahbaz’s psychiatrist, who had been handling his condition, was already scheduled for Monday and would be difficult to procure at a later date due to the coronavirus.
It was also suggested that flights to and from the United Kingdom could be cancelled in the coming days.
Shahbaz claimed that he is not a “smuggler” or a “criminal” and should not be barred from travelling abroad. He said that the government put his name on the blacklist of “malice.”
The Opposition Leader said that he would return to Pakistan “as soon as his doctors permit.”
The court agreed to encourage Shahbaz to travel abroad for medical reasons from May 8 to July 3, and set a hearing for July 5 to begin deliberations on his exclusion from the blacklist.
‘The government will pursue all legal options in response to the ruling.’
Fawad Chaudhry, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, shared the government’s determination to
“seek all legal avenues against the decision”.
“The prime minister has pointed out the weaknesses of the justice system many times,” he said.
“Shahbaz Sharif has been involved in money laundering worth billions,” he said, adding: “For him to run away like this would be great misfortune [for the country].”
According to Chaudhry, Shahbaz had previously issued a promise for the return of his brother, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, “but what became of that?”
According to the minister, the opposition “is not able to engage in political changes because this rotten structure suits their needs.”
‘Shahbaz’s name was never on the Exit Control List,’ says the officer.
In response to Fawad Chaudhry’s remarks, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Shahbaz’s name was never on the Exit Control List (ECL).
“Imran [Khan] sahab had the names of his political opponents added to a blacklist. Shahbaz Sharif’s name was added in the blacklist out of a desire for political revenge,”
She called the government’s action “criminal,” and the blacklist usually includes the names of militants and anti-state activists.
Aurangzeb said that the court considered Shahbaz’s previous travel records before issuing the judgement, allowing him to travel once more.
“The allegations of billions of rupees worth of money laundering have been left behind on the containers [you stood atop on] and were never proven in any court of law,”
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill termed the verdict “surprising”.
“First [Shahbaz] provided a false guarantee for this brother, allowing him to flee abroad and never return. Now he has been declared an absconder.
“Should he not have been in jail for being an accomplice to an absconder? And in their 35-year reign, they never built one hospital that could serve their treatment needs?” Gill wrote.
شہباز شریف کی بیرون ملک روانگی کی اجازت حیران کن فیصلہ ہے۔پہلے بھائی کی جھوٹی ضمانت دی اسے باہر بھاگنے میں مدد دی جو کبھی واپس نہیں آئے-اب وہ مفرور قرار ہیں۔کیا انہیں ایک مفرور کی معاونت میں اندر نہیں ہونا چاہیے تھا۔ 35 سال کی حکومت میں ایک ہسپتال ایسا نہیں جہاں ان کا علاج ہو سکے
— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) May 7, 2021
He then continued to express Shahbaz’s statement of assurance, which came at a time when Nawaz Sharif was requesting permission to go abroad for his own care.
“This is that sworn affidavit under which Nawaz was allowed to flee and never return. And now he wishes to flee himself. Could he not seek treatment in any Pakistani hospital? How many times will these people cheat the nation? How many times will they lie?”
یہ تھا وہ ضمانت نامہ۔ جس پر بھائی کو فرار کروایا جو کبھی لوٹ کر نہ آیا۔ اور اب خود بھی فرار ہونے کو ہیں۔ کیا ان کا علاج کسی پاکستانی ہسپتال میں نہیں ہو سکتا ؟ کسی بار قوم کو دھوکہ دیں گے یہ لوگ۔ کتنا جھوٹ بولیں گے۔ pic.twitter.com/PgVu5mM69t
— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) May 7, 2021