Sending Nawaz abroad for treatment: Treasury-opposition's face-to-face encounter on 'delaying tactics'
The treasury and opposition benches came face to face on Thursday on alleged 'delaying tactics' of the government to send ex-premier Nawaz Sharif abroad for treatment with PML-N's Khawaja Asif accusing the government of playing with Sharif's life.
Taking the floor in the National Assembly, Asif, a firebrand lawmaker of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said that an indemnity bond worth Rs 7 to Rs 7.5 billion was nothing but the rulers must not go blind with their politics of victimization.
The government must allow Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment and warned the government once again if anything happened to Sharif, the Prime Minister Imran Khan administration would be held responsible.
"Rs7 billion's surety bond is nothing but in the backdrop of country's political scene, it is a deadly thing. It will start muddy politics in Pakistan," he declared.
"Nawaz Sharif does not want to leave the country, but his medics have been insisting that his treatment abroad is needed the most as they've done whatever they can," he said, adding when the PML-N convinced Sharif to go abroad for getting treatment, the government started conspiring against him.
"We, his workers, and all his 84 MNAs in this house, are guarantors of his return," Asif declared, adding, "The people of Pakistan will bring him back, God will bring him back, his three terms as prime minister, that are his legacy, will bring him back."
"A man who has everything in Pakistan, his politics is in Pakistan - politics is the most valuable property for politicians - his political career spans over 35-40 years, his voters are in Pakistan.
"He does not want to leave Pakistan. His doctors told him in front of me that we (the doctors) have done as much as we can and while we have the capability to treat you, we do not have the technology or the wherewithal," reiterated Asif.
In the same breath, he said a government doctor had recommended Sharif to go to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where all his ailments could be treated, but the irony was that the government was making it conditional with surety bond which was a pity.
Asif hit hard at the government especially Law Minister Farogh Nasim, saying the ex-lawyer of former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf in high treason case is "playing with Sharif's life."
"Farogh Naseem had advocated freedom of movement for former president Pervez Musharraf but not for Sharif, which I leave up to the people to decide," he regretted.
Asif, who seemed quite emotional while narrating the ailment of his party supremo, said: "Uphold the principles, do not make statements to suit current circumstances. I request the government not to turn Sharif's life into a pawn of chess."
He went on to claim that a lawyer told a court official that the government's stance on Sharif's health is "let him die for all we care".
He also alleged that during a meeting of government members, Prime Minister Khan had asked to confirm if Sharif's reports were being meddled with and warned that these attitudes are self-destructive.
"A thrice-elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is fighting for his life and his doctors have been expressing concern regarding his health for the past few months. I am proud that even while he is fighting for his life, he has not forgotten his real battle, which is vote ko izzat do (respect the vote), he is still fighting on that front as well," Asif said amidst applause from opposition benches. "Let's bring some decency in our attitudes," he added.
Asif alleged that parts of his previous speeches in the assembly had been muted and asked: "When we, the parliamentarians don't have freedom of expression, how will they [journalists] get it?"
Raja Pervez Ashraf, a former prime minister of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said politics had gone rogue in the country, adding war criminals were treated well in civilized world "but we have divided the whole society for petty politics."
He said Sharif remained a three-time prime minister and it was the responsibility of the state to give him best possible medical treatment.
He said that former president Asif Ali Zardari was also suffering from multiple diseases but he was also being given step-motherly treatment as the alleged crime was committed in Karachi but he is being kept in Rawalpindi.
He demanded immediate constitution of a medical board comprising expert medics for treatment of former president as he was also not being treated well despite being seriously ill.
However, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed questioned the 'special treatment' for the former prime minister, saying it is unfortunate that the PML-N could not improve healthcare facilities in the country enough that Sharif could have been treated here.
"A child dies in his mother's arms after a dog bite - that's the state of medical facilities in Pakistan [...] while the former premier is being asked to be sent abroad," he said.
He said Sharif's two sons - Hassan and Hussain - his former finance minister Ishaq Dar, and a nephew, were court absconders and who will guarantee that Sharif would return home after getting treatment.