ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar has said that the Lahore High Court verdict about removing PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL) is an endorsement of the PTI government’s stance.

Addressing a news conference along with Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan here yesterday, he presented a comparison of the court decision with the cabinet decision taken earlier and pointed out the similarities in them.

Shahzad pointed out that the cabinet had decided to grant one-time permission to Nawaz, specifically for medical treatment, and duration of this permission was for four weeks.

He said the cabinet had also decided that upon completion of his treatment, Nawaz Sharif will return to the country to face the cases against him and his return would be ensured.

The SAPM said the condition of indemnity bond was placed because the Sharif family had a precedent of not returning to the country when granted permission to go abroad. And, the amount of surety bond was determined on the basis of sentences awarded to Nawaz in various cases.

He pointed out that there were four basic points of the judicial decision. “The first point was only a one-time permission should be granted, the second was that Nawaz Sharif would travel abroad for treatment, the third was that he would return back to face the cases against him and the fourth was to guarantee his return to Pakistan,” he maintained.

“A name of any convicted person cannot be taken out from the ECL; however only a one-time permission was granted to Nawaz Sharif on humanitarian grounds,” he said while quoting the LHC verdict. To ensure the return of the convict, the court has taken a written undertaking from the Sharif brothers instead of an indemnity bond, he added.

Shehzad said that Sharif’s sons and the father-in-law of his daughter [Ishaq Dar] were fugitives. “He [Nawaz Sharif] is not Sadiq and Amin and obtained a certificate for that from the [Supreme] Court [in Panama leaks case].”

He said that the indemnity bond was to be given by Shehbaz Sharif; whereas, now the court has taken written undertaking from him as well as his elder brother. The written undertaking is guarantee of their return as any violation of it will be a serious criminal offence, he said.

Moreover, a government representative can verify the medical certificates that would be presented, according to the court decision, the SAPM pointed out. He said the LHC verdict will be discussed in the federal cabinet tomorrow.

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP), Anwar Mansoor Khan said that the court decision was purely based on humanitarian grounds and merits of the case were yet to be decided as no legal reason was given in the order. He said it was an interim order of the court, which did not reject the government’s stance as the case would be resumed for final decision to look into merits of the case in January 2020.

Khan said the undertaking before the court of law had more value than indemnity bonds the government was asking for and if the signatories, Nawaz and Shehbaz, did not fulfil their commitment to the courts then they could be tied under Contempt of Court Ordinance and Article 61, 62-B of the Constitution.

He said after written order of the court, the matter would be produced before the cabinet which would decide whether it should file an appeal or not.

Firdous statement

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcast Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan also said yesterday that LHC order proved that government’s stance was based on principles and law.

In a tweet, she said that the court verdict reinforced almost 80 percent of government’s stance over the issue. The conditions imposed by the government were not rejected by the court but only suspended to decide in January, she added.

Firdous expressed the hope that people spreading sweets would not cry on some later decision of the court, as had happened in the Panama case.

She also expressed the hope that PML-N leadership and doctors would update the nation with Nawaz Sharif’s health after he leaves the country just like they had been giving updates on it now.