Nawaz Sharif has finally secured his release. The government, after much delay and hesitation, has finally decided to remove his name from the Exit Control List to seek treatment abroad.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was under immense pressure not to allow the former premier to go abroad as it would tarnish the government’s accountability drive. The prime minister had time and again repeated that he would not give an NRO-type deal to any political leader. Thus, the government cannot give the impression of a purported deal.
The main opposition towards Nawaz Sharif’s departure came from various sections of the PTI including several members of the cabinet. They believe that lessons should be learned from General Musharraf’s departure as he hasn’t returned back to the country and evaded justice. Nawaz Sharif’s departure would be a political loss for the ruling party which received votes due to the accountability narrative.
PM Imran Khan made it clear that Nawaz Sharif’s name would be struck from the no-fly list on the recommendation of NAB. The anti-corruption watchdog didn’t raise any objection and instead shifted the onus onto the government stating that it was the prerogative of the Interior Ministry. Eventually the federal cabinet decided to remove the ailing former prime minister’s name.
A sub-committee of the federal cabinet has decided to grant a ‘conditional’ release to Nawaz Sharif. The issue was considered a bit complex by Law Minister Farogh Naseem. The committee wants Sharif to deposit a surety amount equal to the penalty imposed on him in the Al-Azizia reference case. It also wants the former premier to provide the exact date of his return from abroad.
The PML-N has been persistent that Nawaz Sharif must urgently fly abroad for treatment as doctors have advised that they have exhausted all medical options. PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has been leading efforts as he wants to his elder brother to fly to London for better medical care. Indecision by the government has led the PML-N to state that a delay in departure is a serious threat to Nawaz Sharif’s life.
Another section in the PTI is of the opinion that Nawaz Sharif’s departure would be beneficial for the party. They believe that the PML-N allowed Musharraf to go abroad and completed its five year tenure. There is no doubt that Nawaz Sharif is seriously ill but is the situation worse enough that he needs treatment abroad? It will be an arduous task for the government to dispel the impression that a NRO has finally been given.