ISLAMABAD     -    In a surprising move, Senate Chairman Mohammad Sadiq Sanjrani Thursday directed the federal government not only to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad but also facilitate his medical treatment abroad.

The ruling party the other day had made a conditional offer to the ailing politician for leaving the country, asking him to deposit over $7 billion dollar bonds as an indemnity. Nawaz is convicted for corruption in one case and is facing a number of other corruption investigations.

Responding to a point of public importance first raised by PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi and followed by other opposition lawmakers in the Senate on Thursday, the chairman ruled that “government should provide facilities to former PM abroad in connection with his health and send him abroad.”

The chairman told the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Senator Azam Swati to convey his message to government, being its representative.

Later, Sanjrani also ruled that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government should also provide all health facilities to jailed former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari, after his party senators raised the matter on the floor of the house.

Three-time former PM and supreme leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is suffering from multiple health issues including an immune disorder disease and his doctors say that he needs to be sent abroad for “specialized treatment.”

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government on Wednesday offered him one-time four weeks permission to leave the country with the condition to furnish indemnity bond — a pre-condition that was rejected by his party.

Senator Abbasi said that the government was creating a bad blood by not allowing their leader to travel abroad, ignoring recommendations of provincial government’s medical board that his life was in danger and he needed to be sent abroad for treatment.

“We have already submitted security bonds before the higher courts in Lahore and Islamabad for his post-arrest and post-conviction bails and the government’s demand to get indemnity bond is illogical,” he said.

Abbasi added that government’s denial to let the former PM avail treatment facilities of his choice was illegal, unconstitutional and immoral.

Following the chair’s ruling on Nawaz Sharif’s matter, PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Senator Ms Sherry Rehman endorsed Abbasi and complained that government was also denying medical treatment of his own choice to imprisoned former president.

She said that PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has been kept under detention without any conviction and government had ignored an advice of its own medical board for his treatment. She demanded for her party leader treatment by doctors of his choice.

Taking the debate on Kashmir lockdown by India to his party leader’s case, PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rasheed said the country was facing economic instability because civilian and visionary leaders were either hanged or forced to live in exile, or they have had to face health issues while in jail — a reference to Nawaz Sharif.

“This play [of political victimisation] should end; otherwise, we would not be able to further Pakistan’s agenda,” he said.

PML-N hawk Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan appreciated the ruling of the chairman and said that Nawaz should be sent abroad without wasting time.

Taking part in debate on economic situation of country, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said that the state was treating politicians with dual standards.

On one hand, former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf was allowed to go abroad for treatment without taking any guarantee and his name was immediately excluded from the no fly list, while on the other hand, a former president [Zardari] was being kept in jail and denied medical facilities on his choice, he said.

Rabbani, who is a former chairman of the Senate, said that government’s conditional offer to the former PM too was illegal. “Are we heading towards popular fascism?”

He also asked why some businessmen and federal secretaries met with the army chief, instead of the PM, for amendments in the NAB laws.

Calling it a failure of the system, he gave five recommendations to solve the problem. The supremacy of the parliament should be restored, diarchy ended, independence of judicatory ensured, trichotomy of power respected by every institution, and inter-institutional dialogue led by parliament initiated, he proposed.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, winding up the debate on imposition of curfew and lockdown by Indian forces in Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, rejected the claim of opposition parties that the government was silent on Kashmir issue and doing nothing to internationalize it.

“A lot has been done and much needs to be done on the matter in future,” she said.

“For the first time Pakistan’s government has given a cohesive, all-encompassing and effective narrative on Kashmir.... This is the first government whose narrative on Kashmir has been heard internationally.”

The minister said that the issue has been raised everywhere including the UN, UK Parliament and EU Parliament. It was after 50 years that Kashmir issue was debated at UN Security Council, she pointed out.

She said that pressure on India was mounting. “This is for the first time Pakistan was not facing allegation of terrorism; rather, Hindustan is being criticized for siege and lockdown of Kashmir and for its ethnic cleansing agenda of Muslims in India.”

Ms Mazari said that previously Pakistan approached the issue of human rights abuses in Kashmir diplomatically and politically but the country now needed to adopt a legal approach. India has violated international laws and Pakistan could go to International Court of Justice (ICJ) for war crime against it, she informed the house.

“Our government has started a debate on this,” she said. She said that all international laws and conventions gave legitimacy to the right to self-determination of Kashmiris and two UN resolutions on Kashmir reaffirm this right as well as UN-administered plebiscite in the valley. “This is absolutely incorrect [to say] that self-determination principle ended post 9/11.”

The minister said that for Pakistan it was very important to take an advisory opinion from ICJ as it has set precedents on occupied territories. “I understand that the government should get [ICJ’s] advisory opinion through UN General Assembly.”

Secondly, she said, rape in Kashmir is being used as a weapon of war and “we need to approach the UN [over it]. Mazari said that India has already climbed the escalation ladder of war and Pakistan would continue to raise the matter with international community.