Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been granted bail for six weeks by the Supreme Court on health grounds. The terms of the bail include that Mr. Sharif “shall not leave or be allowed to leave the country”. He can now be treated anywhere in the country.
The leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) hailed this decision. Mr. Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and younger brother Shehbaz Sharif “thanked God” in their tweets for this temporary relief.
Ahsan Iqbal, a senior leader of the PML-N, told The Hindu that this decision by the Supreme Court validates their position that Mr. Sharif has serious health issues. “It also negates what the [PTI] government was doing, such as making fun of his health, making statements to that effect and playing politics with Mian sahib’s health. The court has given him bail because he has serious health issues. We will now focus on his treatment as Mian sahib is an asset for the country.”
Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told The Hindu he hopes that this relief will lessen Mr. Sharif’s tensions. “He [Mr. Sharif] should get the required medical treatment in these six weeks and get well so he can go back to jail after these six weeks are over. He should either complete his sentence or return the looted money in a plea bargain if he wants his freedom,” added Mr. Chaudhry.
A win-win situation
Senior journalist Suhail Warraich thinks it’s a win-win for all parties. “Both the establishment and the judiciary don’t want to look cruel. The PML-N got relief. The PTI, which was under pressure due to Mr. Sharif’s health, will also come out of pressure now.”
Senior analyst Asma Shirazi thinks there are two reasons for this decision and one of them is of course for political reasons. Ms Shirazi says Mr. Sharif was quite unwell and if anything had happened to him in jail, the government could not have afforded. “Opposition parties in Pakistan are in an agitation mode. The two main Opposition parties — the PML-N and the PPP — had come together on one point, which is “political victimisation” of their leadership through cases. Now it seems they don’t want to open two fronts at the same time since it seems that Asif Zardari and PPP leadership are in trouble, she said.
Ms. Shirazi added that the other reason is legal. “The courts have kept Mr. Sharif’s worsening health in mind and it is reflected in their decision. It is a big relief for the PML-N that Mr. Sharif got bail while his brother Shahbaz Sharif’s name has been taken off the ECL [exit control list]. This is quite unprecedented that the PML-N got quite a breather.”
Anchorperson Gharidah Farooqi thinks that it seems Mr. Sharif and Maryam Nawaz will stick to the policy and strategy of ‘silence is the best revenge’ and let Shahbaz Sharif’s silent mediation do wonders.
“Nawaz Sharif’s strategy has not worked out politically for him, his daughter, his brother’s family and for the PML-N. His party not just lost their government at the Centre but also in its stronghold of last 30 years, Punjab,” she said.
Ms. Farooqi added that Shahbaz Sharif tried to adopt his elder brother’s aggressive strategy when he faced cases in the NAB but soon realised that it was of no avail so he returned to silent mediation, which has apparently worked. “Not only has he received a clean chit from corruption and corrupt practices under NAB cases on merit — clearing him further for any important role back again in Punjab or Centre — but also got his name cleared off of the ECL while Nawaz Sharif still cannot travel abroad even for medical treatment.”