ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday said it was the Islamabad High Court (IHC), and not the government, which had granted interim bail to Nawaz Sharif in Al-Aziza Steel Mills reference on medical grounds.

“The government cannot acquit or award punishment to an accused as it is the prerogative of the courts,” she said while addressing a press conference here.

“A small section of media is trying to build a perception that Nawaz was given relief by the government which is incorrect,” she said, rejecting the rumours circulating in media about a ‘deal’ between the government and the opposition.

The national anti-graft watchdog was pursuing the case against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader in the court, Dr Firdous said while terming him the National Accountability Bureau’s prisoner.

Says federal government has nothing to do with the Sharif case

“The government has been fully cooperating with the court in the case as its representatives appeared before the court on time, and recorded their statements in that regard,” SAPM concluded.

She said some anchors of private channels were claiming that the government could not take a clear stance in Nawaz case which was contrary to the facts. “The Interior Minister and Attorney General of Pakistan have maintained in the court that the decision should be taken on merit,” the SAPM added.

However, Firdous said the federal government was asked to submit an affidavit in the court for giving guarantee of Nawaz’s life in jail which she termed a ‘very unique move’ in the history of Pakistan.

“Nobody can give guarantee of anyone’s life and death as it is the authority of the Almighty,” she said and questioned: “How the federal government can be asked to take responsibility of someone’s life or death.”

The special assistant said the federal government had nothing to do with the case and could not intervene in the jurisdiction of other institutions. However, the government had provided the best healthcare facilities to Nawaz Sharif, she added.

Firdous said the court had given a temporary relief to Nawaz Sharif till Tuesday. The detailed decision would determine the timeframe of the relief given to the PML-N leader, she added.

To a query, she said the government had not received any request from the PML-N seeking permission for its leader’s treatment from abroad. “I have no information that the Sharif family has approached the court for that purpose,” she added.

She said Nawaz Sharif was free to get treatment from any public or private hospital in the country and the government would facilitate him in that regard.

The special assistant said the PML-N should respect the court decision when it comes against their desires, adding this decision indicated that the judiciary was independent in the country. The decision on Nawaz Sharif bail would surely help change the PML-N anti-judiciary narrative, she added.

To another query, she said the government came into power with public mandate and would complete its 5-year tenure.

Criticizing Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the special assistant said those, who had looted the national exchequer, were now getting treatments on the public expense, adding that the government was not victimizing its political opponents.

She said the government’s negotiation team and opposition Rehbar Committee had developed consensus over the ‘Azadi March’.

Firdous said the government had introduced eight new laws through ordinances due to lack of majority in the upper house of Parliament.

She urged the opposition to support government in the Parliament for bringing social, judicial, economic and other reforms in the country.