ISLAMABAD - The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) claims that the court’s decision to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to fly abroad after exclusion of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) vindicated its stance that they have not offered any underhand deal to the opposition party leader.

A federal minister of the ruling party told The Nation that with the denial of PML-N to submit over Rs7 billion indemnity bond to the government to allow Sharif to travel abroad, the party already had a stance that the matter was now out of their hands. A meeting of the Core Committee that met on Friday under the chair of PM had a view that the matter was now before the court, the minister said.

The Lahore High Court Saturday in a decision directed the government to exclude ailing PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif from no fly list to get his treatment abroad following earlier conditional offer of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to him.

Another PTI leader said that the party within its internal meetings had a stance that if the government allowed Sharif to go abroad without any pre-conditions, the decision gave an impression that perhaps PTI had given an underhand deal to the three-time former PM.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had been claiming in public meetings that he would not give any NRO ( National Reconciliation Ordinance)-like deal, offered by then President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf to then opposition, to the opposition leaders facing corruption investigations.

PML-N claims that former PM is facing multiple health issues including an immune disorder disease that was not treatable in Pakistan and he needs to go abroad for his specialized treatment. The government had placed former PM on ECL since he is facing investigations in corruption cases. It insists that the veteran politician who is facing seven-year imprisonment in a corruption reference should submit a surety bond to ensure that he would return to country after his treatment to complete his sentence and face investigations in another corruption case.

Commenting on the LHC decision, Federal Minister for Science & Technology Fawad Chaudhry told a TV channel that the ruling party would give its final stance on the decision after it would be placed on the cabinet meeting scheduled to meet on Tuesday. He said that the cabinet would take a final decision on this.

On the other hand, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan in her media interaction said that the government respected the court decision.

Another PTI leader and legal expert Dr Babar Awan in a statement said that government would not file an appeal against the high court decision. “It is not a matter of anyone’s defeat or success, it a matter of court decision.”

Earlier this month, President PML-N Shahbaz Sharif had submitted an application with the Ministry of Interior seeking removal of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif’s name from the ECL. He submitted the application following LHC on October 25 had granted post-arrest bail to former prime minister on medical grounds in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. On October 29, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) also suspended his sentence for eight weeks on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.

After the submission of application, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq on November 8 said that PM Imran Khan had no objection if Sharif wanted to travel abroad for his treatment.

A day after this, the government on a second thought did not allow the former PM to go abroad and sent the matter to the sub-committee of the cabinet on ECL, The sub-committee after hearing all parties including National Accountability Bureau (NAB), on whose request the name was placed on ECL, the medical board and the applicant decided that Sharif should furnish an indemnity bond to the government to get his name removed from ECL that was denied by the PML-N. PML-N then approached the LHC against the decision of the government.