LAHORE - For weeks, the controversy has been whether or not the PML-N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif should be allowed to go abroad for treatment. The government and the PML-N have been shifting blame for his deteriorating health in jail. The Sharif family and the PML-N leaders think the government is not taking Nawaz Sharif’s health issues seriously by shifted him from one hospital to another. They have also been stressing on the point that no health facility in Pakistan offered treatment to the disease he was suffering from.

The government, on the other hand, maintains that Mian Nawaz Sharif is not willing to get treatment from any health facility in Pakistan and wanted to go abroad. The government is even ready to allow the physician of his choice to come to Pakistan for his treatment.

The Supreme Court is taking up Nawaz Sharif’s bail application on health grounds today and the decision may come any time soon. The upcoming court decision whether in Nawaz Sharif’s favour or against, will have the potential to stir up political activity with the government to be at the receiving end.  

The PML-N is confident to get the much desired relief from the court. The argument is that since the no corruption has been proved in Panama or any other case, it is Nawaz Sharif’s fundamental right to go abroad for his ailment on bail.

The government, however, maintains that power to send the PML-N leader abroad lies with the court and that it could do nothing in this regard. Its spokespersons also allege that a section of PML-N was doing politics over their leader’s health and trying to defame the government.

PML-N sources confided to The Nation that going abroad of their leader is purely for his treatment since his disease is entering into dangerous proportion. They are also confident that Nawaz Sharif will return home to lead the party after getting treatment. 

Also, there is a general good will from the elected elite and political stalwarts that Mian Nawaz Sharif should be allowed to go abroad for treatment.

The fear on government’s part is that Mian Nawaz Sharif has been an enough trouble being in jail and once released on bail he will create even bi gger problems. Moreover, the Government apprehends that he may reorganize his party cadres for forthcoming local bodies’ elections which the government is keen to sweep. For this, the PTI government in Punjab has been working seriously on it.

It may be mentioned that recently not only Mian Nawaz Sharif indicated that his workers were getting impatient over government’s attitude of not allowing their leader to proceed abroad for treatment, a sizable number of workers lodged protest outside Kot Lakhpat jail last week. Maryam Nawaz also thanked them for their concern.

At this critical juncture, the PTI government can ill-afford political workers getting to the streets. The third largest party-the PPP-has already pledged its support for Mian Nawaz Sharif to proceed abroad without mincing words.

In their statements, senior PPP leaders including Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto, Khurshid Shah, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Moula Bakhsh Chandio have criticized the government for using NAB as a political tool to deprive Nawaz Sharif of his fundamental right to have treatment abroad. In the given scenario, the government cannot afford political adventurism especially in view of the current security situation in the wake of Indian attack on country’s soil.

It is, however, another thing that all opposition parties had supported the government and it gained diplomatic support from the world powers after release of the Indian pilot. Even Trump changed its tone and tried hard through backdoor channels to de-escalate the tension between the two nuclear neighbors. 

Also, the country’s economy is in shambles for which the government is trying to overcome the multi-faceted problems like price-hike, soaring utility bills and tough negotiations with the IMF.

Besides, the government is running the show with thin majority both in the centre and in Punjab. There is growing mistrust among its coalition partners, especially the PMQM and PML-Q about how the government was treating them.

The political pundits are of the view that if the treatment of Mian Nawaz Sharif gets prolonged in London, there is a strong possibility that Maryam Nawaz will become active again.

However, the party sources did not confirm if Maryam Nawaz Sharif will accompany her father if he gets bail from the court and the government does not create any hindrance in his proceeding abroad. Nawaz Sharif has two sons to look after him in London while his daughter can stay behind to activate the party. Maryam’s role in party affairs is relevant because her uncle, Mian Shehbaz Sharif is pre-occupied in facing NAB cases and plays the role of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly.