ISLAMABAD     -    Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Thursday that by granting conditional permission to former premier Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for treatment, Prime Minister Imran Khan had preferred humanity to politics. “Nawaz Sharif has been convicted by courts, but keeping in view his deteriorating health, the government has come up with a legal solution for facilitating him to get treatment abroad,” she said while talking to the media after appearing before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a contempt of court case. She deplored opposition’s bid to exploit the condition of Indemnity Bond set for Nawaz’s flight to London for political purposes, and said the government looked at former premier’s deteriorating health from a humanitarian point of view. “Notwithstanding the fact that Nawaz is Imran’s arch-rival, the prime minister has directed his party members not to politicize his ailment,” SAPM added.

Urging the opposition, particularly the PML-N, not to make the condition of Indemnity Bond controversial, Firdous reminded the PML-N of those statements which its leadership used to make about former president Pervez Musharraf’s sickness. “How come those very people are criticising the PTI government despite the fact that it has given Nawaz conditional permission to seek treatment abroad, who had opposed Musharraf’s treatment abroad when they were in power?,” she questioned. She explained to the opposition that a convict, seeking treatment overseas, was supposed to submit some security so that it could serve as a guarantee that he would return to complete his remaining prison term. “Musharraf was neither a convict nor had served imprisonment, even then his plea was opposed, but in Nawaz Sharif’s case, who is a convict, the PML-N leaders are lashing out at the government for setting the condition of Indemnity Bond,” she regretted.

The special assistant to the PM said despite legal compulsions the government had come up with an out-of-the-box solution to facilitate Nawaz. “We have not compelled them for depositing any money or property with the government as guarantee, but have simply sought an assurance in terms of indemnity bond,” SAPM said, and asked PML-N not to play politics over the government’s offer, fulfill the legal requirements and take Nawaz to UK as early as possible. Firdous said the government was not seeking anything for itself rather it was a legal requirement and our overtures must not be ridiculed or mocked.

 “This attitude is very regrettable. We shall continue to politicking on other issues, but should avoid politicizing Nawaz Sharif’s health.”

She further said, “Although PM Imran has barred us from issuing statements on Nawaz’s health, the PML-N spokespersons are hurling baseless allegations at the government. In this scenario we expect Shahbaz Sharif to understand the legal compulsions and arrange his brother’s travel abroad by fulfilling government’s condition.”

On the issue of Azadi March by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the special assistant said he had migrated from Islamabad to his ancestral abode, and “We hope he would take better decisions in future in order to complement the government’s efforts for economic stability and national cohesion.”

“He could score only 13 against Imran Khan’s century (126 days sit-in) and should understand that if he desires betterment of people, he should use the most esteemed forum of parliament for legislation on peoples’ issues,” she suggested.

Firdous said people were well aware of the government’s efforts for economic stability and mitigating their sufferings and they will not become part of any effort to sabotage the government’s efforts.

“If Maulana seriously feels masses problems, he should utilise his 15 members in the parliament for productive legislation and cooperate with the government in implementing reforms agenda,” she said.

Answering a question, the Special Assistant said the government was committed to fulfill its commitments to people and anything coming its way would be thrown away by the people.

She said the government had shown utmost flexibility in facilitating Nawaz Sharif as sub-committee of the cabinet deliberated on the issue for hours to seek a way out that could make Nawaz to fly abroad for treatment.

Answering another question regarding Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s call for lock down, she said, freedom of expression was right of everybody and so was the right to mobility and live freely. “Wherever Maulana or his followers would challenge the law, the law would take its course,” she remarked.