The Islamabad High Court has suspended former PM Nawaz Sharif’s seven-year prison sentence in the Al Azizia case. He will be out on bail for eight weeks.
A divisional bench, comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Aamer Farooq, announced the verdict on Tuesday.
Nawaz’s bail has been approved against Rs2 million surety bonds. A detailed verdict will be released soon.
The bench said that Nawaz can approach the Punjab government if he doesn’t feel better even after eight weeks. His sentence will be reinstated if he doesn’t approach the Punjab government within the set time limit.
The petition, filed by Shehbaz Sharif, asked for the sentence should be suspended on medical grounds.
Nawaz, who was completing his sentence at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail, is currently seeking treatment at Lahore’s Services Hospital. His doctors say his platelet count is critically low. He was shifted to the hospital from NAB custody Monday night. A court had remanded him into the bureau’s custody for investigation in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. On Friday, the Lahore High Court approved Nawaz’s bail in the case.
During the court proceedings, the National Accountability Bureau did not raise any objection to Nawaz being granted conditional bail in the case. The court can give its verdict based on the guidelines set up the Supreme Court, said the NAB prosecutor, adding that the court, however, should provide a timeframe for the suspension of the sentence.
NAB has opposed Nawaz’s request to be treated abroad. “Not a single doctor has said that Nawaz can’t be treated in Pakistan,” the prosecutor told the court.
The former PM was convicted by an accountability court on December 24, 2018 and sentenced to seven years in jail and a massive fine of $25 million
Reactions pour in
Many PML-N supporters started clapping and chanting slogans outside the court after the verdict was announced.
Ahsan Iqbal, a member of Nawaz’s party, said that he holds the government responsible for former PM’s deteriorating condition. “Imran Khan has brought harm to Nawaz’s health and the economy too. He has nothing to show for himself and this is why he is engaging in revenge tactics,” he claimed.
The government isn’t in any position to dispense justice because we hold them responsible for Nawaz’s condition, Iqbal remarked.
Nawaz’s medical reports were presented in court and they show that he is in critical condition. He has many health complications which is why it is very difficult to treat him. He needs advanced medical care, Iqbal added.
“His physician even said that Nawaz is fighting for his life,” he said, adding that Nawaz’s sentence should be suspended till he recovers.
Special Assistant to PM for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the government has been worried about Nawaz’s health and trying its best to provide him the best medical care. The government accepts the court’s decision. “We hope Nawaz regains health soon and that is the only thing he focuses on,” she added.
We want to see a strong and well Nawaz as our political rival, she claimed.