–Anti-graft watchdog says govt ‘competent authority’ to remove former premier’s name from no-fly list
–SAPM says NAB requested for inclusion of Nawaz’s name on ECL and it will be removed on its recommendation
–Cabinet committee to decide the matter of lifting travel ban on Tuesday
–PML-N spokesperson says delay in decision posing threat to life of ex-prime minister
ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday said the federal government was the “competent authority” to decide the matter of removal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL), as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) claimed that the delay in this regard was posing a threat to the life of its supreme leader.
Nawaz, 69, agreed on Friday to go to England for his treatment, heeding doctors’ advice and ‘accepting’ his family’s request. He was scheduled to leave for London on a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight on Monday morning. However, his departure to London was conditioned with his name’s removal from the no-fly list.
Earlier in the day, PM’s Special Assistant on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the decision to remove Nawaz’s name from the no-fly list will be taken in light of recommendations of NAB and the medical board.
In a response submitted to the Interior Ministry, NAB said that “the federal government is the competent authority to remove names from the ECL”.
NAB also stated that there were past precedents, including in the case of convicted murderer and former Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker Saulat Mirza, in which the federal government had struck convicts’ names off the ECL without asking NAB, its spokesperson said.
“The government itself does not place any individual’s name on the ECL. Names are placed on the ECL on the recommendations given by NAB and the courts. Now that an application has been filed for the name to be removed, the same process is being followed,” Firdous told the media after her hearing in the Islamabad High Court in a contempt case.
“Hopefully, today we will receive NAB’s recommendations. […] NAB is the plaintiff in this case, he (Nawaz) is a suspect in [a case being probed by] NAB and was convicted by an accountability court.
“Secondly, the recommendations attached with the application filed are made by a medical board of Sharif Medical City. The government does not take decisions in light of directions from a private medical board, it was important to take the opinion of the government’s medical board.”
She said that reports from NAB and the medical board were delayed due to the weekend and added that a review committee in the Law Ministry would “analyse” opinions of both bodies after which the matter would be forwarded to the cabinet.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar also said that the PML-N supremo’s name would be removed from the ECL within a day.
CABINET COMMITTEE TO DECIDE ON LIFTING TRAVEL BAN:
The matter will be decided by a sub-committee of federal cabinet, which is scheduled to meet on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The sub-committee on ECL also issued notices to the relevant parties, including Secretary Health Punjab and the medical board. The notice mentioned that the complainant, Shehbaz Sharif or his representative, should appear before the committee on Tuesday.
In response, PML-N said that Shehbaz Sharif’s representative Attaullah Tarrar and Dr Adnan will be present before the committee.
PML-N EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER DELAY:
Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb expressed concern over the delay in removing Nawaz’s name from the ECL.
In a statement, Marriyum said that the medical board formed by the government had already recommended that Nawaz should be sent abroad for treatment as soon as possible. She said that the medical board had also recommended sending him abroad following a meeting last night.
She said that once the former premier’s name is removed from the ECL other arrangements, such as arranging an air ambulance and sending the premier abroad, will start.
On Sunday, Marriyum said that a high dose of steroids had been administered to Nawaz in preparation for his expected departure on Monday.
“Doctors have warned against giving him such high doses of steroids repeatedly,” she said, adding: “They cannot risk any further damage in trying to get his platelet levels to rise.”
Marriyum said that the drop in the former premier’s platelet levels continues to worry doctors. “They are ambivalent about how to approach his treatment. They worry there might be a further deterioration in his health.”
The former minister said that if Nawaz’s health worsens any further, it will be “almost impossible to take him abroad”.
According to doctors “every single moment is precious” when it comes to getting Nawaz treated. “As time passes by, the threats to his health increase. It is imperative we send him abroad for treatment immediately,” they said.
Additionally, Nawaz’s personal physician Dr Adnan Khan said any delay in sending the former premier abroad could increase the risk to his health.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Lahore, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid said that an application had been submitted to the Ministry of Interior to permit Nawaz to go abroad for treatment.
Following this, the Interior Ministry had written to the Health Ministry asking them to get the opinion of the medical board. In response to this, the board said they had written a discharge summary and had provided all the details of the tests that needed to be carried out, adding that they [Interior Ministry] should act as they find suitable.
However, the Interior Ministry said they wanted a detailed report particularly regarding whether Nawaz should be sent abroad or not.
She said that the board met last night and based on their analysis, they feel that because the former premier’s condition isn’t stabilising and there may be tests that can’t be done in Pakistan, they recommend that he should be sent abroad.
Dr Yasmeen said the Health Ministry had written to the medical board informing them that they had found some shortfalls in the report and could not send it to the Interior Ministry.
They had told the board to provide details of “each test or intervention required with risk factor involved to be specifically mentioned”.
The provincial health minister said that they asked the board about which tests can be conducted in Pakistan’s public sector hospitals and which ones cannot. Additionally, they asked which tests can be sent abroad and why Nawaz is a high-risk patient.
In response to a question regarding whether there was pressure on the medical board, Rashid said: “Being a doctor myself […] when I read the report, I felt that it was insufficient.
“We have not put any sort of political pressure on anyone. I think the board is completely independent, you can ask any board member.”
Nawaz was rushed from Kot Lakhpat jail to the hospital last month after his personal physician Dr Adnan Khan raised an alarm over his deteriorating health. Doctors have been struggling to bring his platelet count — that had dropped to dangerous levels — back to normal.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had last week submitted a request to the Interior Ministry as well as NAB for the removal of Nawaz’s name from the ECL so that the former prime minister could travel abroad for medical treatment. Nawaz has been diagnosed with an immune system disorder and his condition is said to be “extremely critical”.