LAHORE     -    The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz yesterday formally rejected the government’s conditional offer of removing Nawaz Sharif’s name from the exit control list.

Party president Shehbaz Sharif said that asking for submission of Rs7 billion surety bond was like a ‘demand for ransom’.

The party has made a unanimous decision of not accepting such a “cheap and dirty” condition at any cost, he told a press conference after chairing a party meeting at PML-N Secretariat in Model Town on Thursday.

Shehbaz, who is also Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of doing dirty politics by politicizing a humanitarian issue. He warned that Imran would be held responsible if anything bad happened to Nawaz.

On the other hand, the Lahore High Court on Thursday sought reply from all the relevant authorities by Friday on a petition filed by Shehbaz, challenging inclusion of Nawaz Sharif’s name in the ECL and the condition imposed by the government for removing it.

“Imran Niazi is displaying his cheap mentality by demanding ransom from his critically ill political opponent. Condition of Rs7 billion surety bond was aimed at misleading the nation that he has at last succeeded in realizing his promises of recovering the plundered money from Sharif family,” Shehbaz said in the press conference.

“I will hold you (PM) responsible if anything happened to Nawaz Sharif due to unnecessary lingering of the case. The nation will never tolerate such a non-serious attitude and criminal negligence,” he said.

On the occasion, he was flanked by senior party figure Raja Zafarul Haq, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, Azma Zahid Bukhari and Nawaz Sharif’s physician Dr Adnan Khan.

The PML-N chief raised the question that whether such conditions were applied to other high profile accused for removing their names from the ECL.

“This is political victimization of three times PM. No surety bonds were taken from military dictator Gen Pervaiz Musharraf. Name of Zulfi Bukhari was removed from the ECL within half an hour and that too without any condition. It showed the dual standards,” he said.

Shehbaz asked the Law Minister Farogh Naseem, who was Musharraf’s lawyer in Supreme Court, as to how he could manage the guts to put surety bonds condition for Nawaz when he opposed such conditions for his client in the past.

He said Musharraf’s lawyers assured the court he would return to country after treating his ‘backache’ but he never returned.

The opposition leader accused the government and NAB of playing a “dirty game” with Nawaz Sharif’s health by making his request a shuttle cock between them for the last one week, despite the court’s giving Nawaz bail for medical treatment abroad.

He said Imran Khan always keep alleging the opposition of seeking an underhand deal while the fact was that it was not even in his (PM’s) power to give anyone any NRO.

“Nawaz Sharif has been fighting the deadly disease with courage and patience. It was due to prayers of his mother that Nawaz survived despite dropping the platelets count to 2000 level,” he said.

He lamented that the rulers were not allowing the ex-PM go abroad, completely ignoring advice of medical board.

Shehbaz Sharif asked the government if Nawaz had submitted any indemnity or surety bonds when he had voluntarily returned to the country from London in July 2018 after he was sentenced to prison by a trial court in the Avenfield reference.

“And today when two high courts have granted him bail and said that he can avail treatment in Pakistan or abroad, the government is doing politics on the issue of health of the three times prime minister who made the country a nuclear power and rid it of loadshedding and who was now in a critical condition,” he said.

The PML-N president said the noted legal experts have strongly criticised the government for imposing the illegal condition. He said that the PML-N legal team had moved Lahore High Court against the illegal condition.

LHC hearing

A Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench on Thursday sought para-wise comments from the federal government and others by Friday on a petition challenging inclusion of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name in the exit control list and the condition imposed by the federal government for its removal.

The bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem heard the petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif.

At the outset of the proceedings, the petitioner’s counsel Advocate Amjad Pervaiz submitted that the Islamabad High Court and the LHC had granted bail to Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia and Chaudhry Sugar Mills cases, respectively.

He said Nawaz Sharif was severely ill and it was necessary for him to travel abroad for medical tests and diagnoses. The federal government had allowed him to go abroad but also attached the condition of furnishing indemnity bonds of 25 million dollars, 8 million UK Pounds and Rs1.5 billion.

He contended that freedom of movement was a fundamental right and no one could be deprived of it. He pleaded with the court to issue directions for unconditionally removing name of Nawaz Sharif from the ECL.

To a court’s query, the counsel further submitted that Shehbaz Sharif’s name was also placed on the ECL but it was removed on the directions of the court.

At this stage, Justice Ali Baqar Najafi asked from the counsel whether Nawaz Sharif’s name was placed in the ECL on the recommendations of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Islamabad.

To which, the counsel replied in negative and submitted that no details were available in that regard. He submitted that the LHC had jurisdiction to hear the matter in the light of Supreme Court’s judgements whereas no court had asked so far to place the name of Nawaz Sharif on the ECL while responding to another bench query about the jurisdiction.

He contended that conditions imposed by the government were in violation of the Exit from Pakistan (control) Ordinance, besides submitting a power of attorney on behalf of Nawaz Sharif.

Additional Attorney General Pakistan Ishtiaq A Khan raised objection over maintainability of the petition submitting that the Islamabad High Court was empowered to hear the matter. He also submitted that Nawaz Sharif was allowed to

travel abroad in accordance with the law.

However, the bench observed that it had been seen that the resident of a particular area could approach the court of his area for removing his name from the ECL. The court asked as to who recommended to place the name of Nawaz Sharif on the ECL.

The additional attorney general submitted that all record was available in Islamabad and it could be sought.

Subsequently, the court issuing notice to the federal government and others sought reply until November 15 (Friday).