New Delhi: The Imran Khan government in Pakistan is working to clear the decks to allow its political rival, three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to leave the country. Sources said Sharif is likely to leave for London to seek further treatment on Monday, but his daughter and political heir apparent, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, may not be able to travel with him. However, Sharif’s brother Shehbaz Sharif is free to go out of the country.
A source in the Pakistani government said that as of Sunday night, “only Mian Nawaz Sharif’s name is under consideration” for travel clearance out of Pakistan. Maryam Nawaz’s request to travel with her ailing father may also be considered, although the source refused to confirm whether it will be taken up formally. Since she is an accused in the Chaudhary Sugar Mills (CSM) corruption case, she has had to submit her passport in the Lahore High Court. “I obviously can't travel immediately because the court has my passport,” she had told Pakistani daily Dawn on Friday.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shehbaz Sharif, former Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province, is all set to travel with the former PM. In fact, he has taken upon himself to arrange the medical facilities for Nawaz Sharif in the UK. A Pakistan government source said, “His (Shehbaz Sharif) name is not in the ECL (Exit Control List), he is free to move. He is arranging all the medical facilities (for his brother) in the UK and he is definitely going with MNS (Mian Nawaz Sharif).”
On Friday, Shehbaz Sharif made a formal request with the Interior Ministry to remove Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List. The Ministry of Interior, however, has had to make a request to the National Accountability Bureau. “Ministry of Interior received a formal application from Mian Shehbaz Sharif for removal of Mian Nawaz Sharif's name from ECL on health grounds and treatment abroad. Ministry of Interior has referred the matter to NAB to which the removal request was also sent,” a ministry statement said.
The Pakistani government said it was not opposed to Sharif’s exit and had, in fact, taken all necessary steps keeping in mind the urgency of the situation. Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Nawaz Sharif can go anywhere he wishes for his treatment. The Pakistan government, Qureshi added, would not cause any hindrance if he wishes to travel abroad. This comes amid reports that Sharif and his daughter Maryam may travel to London to seek treatment for the ailing PML-N leader.
“Nawaz Sharif jahan chahein wahan ilaaj kara sakte hain (Nawaz Sharif can seek treatment anywhere he wants),” Qureshi said in Islamabad. He added, however, that the Imran Khan government has provided facilities for Sharif. “Nawaz Sharif has been given the best medical facilities by the government.”
Qureshi further stressed that the Pakistani government was not opposed to the Sharifs travelling abroad. “Hakumat ne Nawaz Sharif ke bahar jaane mein koi rukawat paida nahi ki hai (The government has not created any hurdles in Nawaz Sharif’s foreign travel),” he said.
Sharif was shifted to his Jati Umra Raiwind residence in Lahore on Wednesday after his two-week stay at a Pakistani hospital for treatment of multiple diseases. Maryam told the press that the family had tried all available medical treatment available in Pakistan but his platelet count continued to drop.
Sharif, 69, was admitted to the Services Hospital in Lahore on October 22 from Pakistan's anti-graft body's custody after his platelets dropped to a critical low level of 2,000.
On December 24, 2018, an accountability court had sentenced Sharif to seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case and acquitted him in the Flagship case. On October 25, the Lahore High Court granted bail to Sharif, in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, who was undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with an acute immune disorder. On October 29, the Islamabad High Court suspended Sharif's sentence in the Al-Azizia corruption case for eight weeks on medical grounds.