Pakistan’s judicial system is known to provide relief to those with pending cases on several humanitarian grounds. Most of the times it is the case that the accused requires foreign medical aid and has to leave the country, otherwise, it is in cases of a family emergency, or any other grounds where the courts deem it needs to provide relief.

While the judiciary has been rather generous in providing humanitarian relief too many individuals – its generosity has been reigned in for a particular case. The Nawaz family being questioned in the Avenfield Apartments case has once again not been granted the permission to leave the country to meet the ailing Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz

The court has not provided a reason why the petition for exemption from the court was dismissed. If one is to observe the history of the country, several accused have feigned illnesses to flee the country and never return. Many have also been allowed to reside in a hospital instead of a jail or convert their own homes as sub-jails to facilitate their lifestyle. A recent case in point is former SSP Rao Anwar being allowed to convert his house in a sub-jail and remain arrested in that space he formerly called home. This shows that the court is usually willing to provide relief to the accused on humanitarian grounds.

While the courts must certainly be commended for their thorough scrutiny of the petitions, striking a balance is also something that must be checked so as to not provide the space for criticism from those accusing the courts of having a political agenda. Obvious “flight risks” – such as Pervez Musharraf – have been let go in the past; a consistent standard is needed.

Nonetheless, the Avenfield Apartments case is of the utmost importance because it will establish whether or not the family has been true to the laws of Pakistan and set the course for all the future cases in this reference because this particular case will decide and push the courts to set a precedent to ensure that it does not happen again.