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Government Declares Nawaz Sharif ‘Absconder’

by Newsweek Pakistan
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Tolga Akmen—AFP

Federal cabinet decides against extending bail for PMLN chief, claiming he has not submitted necessary medical reports

The Government of Pakistan on Tuesday decided against extending interim bail for former premier Nawaz Sharif, declaring him an “absconder” for failing to submit a medical report as mandated by the Islamabad High Court.

“After Nawaz Sharif failed to submit his medical report of any hospital in London, the medical board rejected a medical certificate sent by him and [the government] declared him an absconder,” Special Assistant to the P.M. on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told a press conference following a federal cabinet meeting to decide Sharif’s fate. “From today Nawaz Sharif is an absconder according to the law of land and if he does not return to the country he will be declared a proclaimed offender,” she said, adding that the decision had been approved by the cabinet under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to Awan, the Punjab government had been authorized to decide Sharif’s case on medical grounds by the IHC. She said that the provincial government had repeatedly urged Sharif and his personal physician to submit medical reports verifying the status of his health, but they had failed to do so. “If he [Sharif] is seriously ill, then why has he been unable to submit a medical report to the designated board,” she said.

Former prime minister Sharif was convicted and disqualified in corruption cases in 2018. Due to his failing health, the IHC granted him bail for eight weeks on medical grounds on Oct. 29, 2019. That bail period expired in December 2019. After securing bail, Sharif left the country for London on Nov. 19, 2019 to seek medical treatment.

“The medical board wants to know Nawaz Sharif’s exact ailment and its proposed treatment,” said Awan. “His lack of response has prompted the Punjab government against accepting an application to extend his bail,” she added, without clarifying how Sharif could be declared an absconder without a court ruling.

During the press conference, Awan also hit out at Sharif’s younger brother, Shahbaz, who has been accompanying him in London. “He is getting monthly salary and enjoying luxurious offices and other perks and privileges but not performing his duties required by his office and the people,” she said. “Shahbaz Sahib, return to the country and justify your salary and other benefits being given from taxpayers’ money,” she added.

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