By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – A Pakistani court on Saturday allowed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for medical cure, a court record and local media reported.
A two-member bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) headed by Justice Baqar Najafi accepted the plea of Sharif’s family after day-long proceedings, granting a four-week permission to the three-time premier to fly abroad.
The court also ordered the government to remove his name from a no-fly list immediately.
The deadline, however, could be extended on the recommendation of doctors, Ashtar Asaf Ali, a counsel for the Sharif family, told reporters outside the court.
On Tuesday, the government allowed Sharif to go to London for four weeks to have medical treatment only if he or his family deposited a surety bond of over Rs 7 billion (some $50 million), a demand the longtime political rival of Prime Minister Imran Khan categorically rejected terming it illegal.
The LHC upheld Sharif’s plea and declared the government’s demand for a surety bond illegal.
Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan told the local broadcaster Geo TV that the government would decide to appeal the high court’s rule in the Supreme Court after consultations with the cabinet.
The former premier, suffering from acute immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets, is likely to fly to London next 24 to 48 hours, Geo News reported citing family sources.
Sharif served as the premier from 1990-1992, 1997-1999 and 2013-2017, unable to complete even a single five-year term. His two previous governments were dismissed over corruption charges and through bloodless military coups in 1992 and 1999.
In July 2017, he was disqualified by the Supreme Court over the Panama Papers scandal, which also led to the filing of three corruption cases. Not long after, the top court also barred him from holding the leadership of his party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The former premier, who has twice undergone open heart surgeries, has been convicted in two of three corruption cases, and exonerated in the third.
In the first case, Sharif, with his daughter Maryam and son-in-law, was sentenced last July to 10 years in jail in a corruption case by an accountability court in Islamabad, but the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the conviction in September 2018.
In the second case, known as Al Azizia, in December 2018, Sharif got seven years in jail for owning assets beyond known income sources. The IHC suspended the jail term and granted bail to Sharif for eight weeks on medical grounds late last month.