Nawaz Sharif files review petition against immediate return to Pakistan to face corruption charges
Embattled former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), stating that his health condition would not allow him to return home from London and surrender in a corruption case by September 10, according to a media report.
Last week, the IHC gave a “last chance” to the former premier to surrender and appear before it on September 10 for hearing in the AL-Azizia corruption case. The court had warned of legal action for absconding.
Sharif, 70, has been in London since November last year after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treating a heart disease and an immune system disorder. The three-time premier was sentenced to seven years in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.
Nawaz’s lawyer, Khawaja Haris Ahmed, filed the review petition on Wednesday and submitted the former premier’s latest medical files attested by London-based consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Dr David Lawrence, The Dawn newspaper reported.
“The fact of the matter is that [Nawaz] is still suffering from multiple comorbidities [and] his treatment in London has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. All the doctors that have treated him in the past, as well as those who have been treating him since his arrival in London, have strongly advised him not to travel to Pakistan without getting his treatment done,” Ahmed said in the petition, which said return to Pakistan now could be “fatal” for the PML-N supremo.
The petition pointed out that an appeal under Section 423 of the Code of Criminal Procedure decides guilt or innocence and that there is no need for Sharif to be present physically.
“By no stretch of the imagination does the said provision of law insist upon the presence of the appellant before the court, even if such a presence would expose him to the risk of losing his life,” Ahmed was quoted in the report.
The petition urged the court to forgo the former premier’s surrender.
The Pakistan government has already declared Sharif an “absconder” and approached the UK government for his extradition.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar last month said Sharif’s four-week bail on medical grounds had expired in December last year.
Akbar said the government would task the National Accountability Bureau to pursue Sharif’s extradition. In May, a picture of Sharif having tea at a London cafe along with his family went viral on social media, sparking a debate on the seriousness of his health condition.
The government came under further criticism when last week Sharif’s photos surfaced online, showing him strolling in a street, prompting calls from within the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to bring him back.