File photo of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Photograph:( Reuters )
The relief is not unconditional and is a one-time waiver
After a long delay, Pakistan government on Tuesday granted "conditional" approval for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for medical treatment on the assurance that he signs surety bonds and commits to return after his treatment and face charges against him.
Addressing a news conference after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the government's chief spokesperson Firdous Ashiq Awan said that about "85-90 per cent" participants of the meeting were of the opinion that Nawaz should be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment provided he meets certain conditions, reported Dawn.
After this, the cabinet approved to remove Sharif's name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
The relief is not unconditional and is a one-time waiver. Sharif would be legally bound to surety bonds, indemnity bonds, security and fines imposed on him by courts.
Awan said Law Minister Farogh Naseem shared the recommendations given by the 14-member medical board examining Nawaz, the opinion of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and his own view with the cabinet regarding allowing the former prime minister to proceed abroad.
Following which, Imran Khan asked to conduct a vote, in which a "majority" of the cabinet members favoured removing Nawaz's name from the ECL, Awan revealed.
The development comes after the cabinet sub-committee on ECL convened earlier in the day. However, the meeting ended without any decision, with Law Minister Farogh Naseem terming the issue of striking Nawaz's name off the Exit Control List (ECL) "a bit complex" as some documents that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had to produce were missing.
Nawaz is required to travel to London for treatment as his health deteriorated in the Kot Lakhpat jail where he was serving seven-year imprisonment in a corruption case.
Nawaz was rushed to hospital from Kot Lakhpat jail last month after his personal physician Dr Adnan raised an alarm over his deteriorating health. Doctors have been struggling to bring his platelet count, that had dropped to dangerous levels, back to normal.
Sharif was expected to leave Pakistan on Sunday. However, his ticket had been cancelled as the authorities did not remove his name from the ECL list.
The federal government and National Accountability Bureau were both hesitant to take off Nawaz Sharif's name from the ECL, sources told Geo News.