It seems rather simple, pay the bond and leave the country. But the PML-N is refusing to pay the government an indemnity bond to take former prime minister Nawaz Sharif abroad for medical treatment.
The government has asked the Sharifs to pay Rs7 billion (or Rs700 crores) and they will let him travel abroad. He has already paid the money the Lahore and Islamabad high courts asked him to when they granted him bail. The PML-N has said multiple times that it will not pay this bond. During a press conference on Thursday, Shehbaz Sharif said under Pakistani law, the government can’t ask for any such bonds. “Both [the Islamabad and Lahore high] courts said Nawaz can be treated anywhere in Pakistan or abroad, yet the government is adding conditions to deceive the public,” he claimed.
To start with, this government has borrowed the understanding of indemnity bonds from what are usually tendering or large contracts whereby you’re being asked to put your money where your mouth is, meaning that if you fail to honor what you’re saying you will do, you indemnify the person or the party or, in this case the state, from any damage that you could’ve caused by by failing to do what you said you’d do. This is in the nature of commercial contracting.
The Exit Control List and the rules framed thereunder have no mention of any form of such indemnity. It is correct to say that after a court has granted bail, this is tantamount to the executive sitting in the form of a second bail forum and has increased the condition of bail, in this case to the tune of some billions of rupees. The excuse or the argument used here is that this is the actual amount in play in the conviction, which is currently under appeal for Nawaz Sharif.
Whatever reasoning may be provided, and whether a silence of the law can be used in this manner to deprive someone from what the court has recognized as an urgent right of medical treatment is a separate issue and argument, but the way that it’s been done, the way that it needs an indemnification, which is nearly a statement on stamp paper, shows that this is not really a legal issue. The issue here is more political.
The government wants to save face with regards to one of its oldest campaign cries which is to bringing the alleged corrupt politicians to book and this is the same reason why the PML-N doesn’t want to give this indemnification because it doesn’t want to give in to that first initial campaign cry of the government that this is something that we are answerable for, because Mian Nawaz Sharif holds that these judgments were given through extrajudicial pressure because these judgments were completely devoid of legal merit.
He will not want to politically give a statement which shows him to be in any kind of compromise. But more importantly, the PML-N wouldn’t want to give the statement because they don’t want to arm the PTI with political propaganda power. That’s why they don’t want to sign it.
People have been saying that the reason why the PML-N doesn’t want to hand over the indemnity bond is because it means Nawaz won’t be able to get asylum abroad. But there’s no effect on any kind of asylum understanding. These are wild conspiracy theories at best. There’s no asylum clerk that exists somewhere in England that decides on some point-based system as to whether an ex-prime minister of a country deserves asylum. This is farcical.
What needs to be looked at and what needs to be understood is what is this indemnity bond really doing. It’s saying that Nawaz Sharif commits to giving these Rs7 billion but if Nawaz Sharif doesn’t come back and he doesn’t effectively defend his appeal, one of the basic requirements of which is that he is represented, so if he becomes an absconder, he loses the appeal against the conviction anyway. And the conviction comes back into play anyway, which means that NAB is anyway empowered to take that seven-billion-rupee judgment to seize his assets, to attach them, to auction them and to make whole the damage they say he has done by his corruption.
So there is no reason to have to give the indemnity bond, which is basically a statement on stamp paper, because if he’s an absconder in an appeal, that would be triggered in any case. This is sheer politics.