PM faces resistance in PTI over Nawaz's exit

A section in PTI believes it would be a complete defeat of govt’s accountability narrative

Hasnaat Maik November 11, 2019

ISLAMABAD: For the last couple of days, a section of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is pressuring Prime Minister Imran Khan not to allow former premier Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment, saying it would be a complete defeat of the government’s accountability narrative.

“We should learn a lesson from the departure of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf as he left the country on the same grounds which badly affected the PML-N government as it could not come to terms with the fact that the dictator evaded punishment,” said a senior PTI leader. “Even the PTI workers are texting the leadership not to allow Nawaz to go abroad.”

He also wondered that when the prime minister time and again repeated that he would not give an NRO-type deal to any political leader then how he would end the impression of a deal.

The PTI leader believed that the party got majority of the votes in the last general elections on the basis of the narrative of “accountability against corrupt political leaders” and Nawaz’s departure would be a political lost for the party.

The PTI leader also wondered what would be the political benefit for the government in giving concession to Nawaz as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s ‘Azadi March’ threat still loomed.

Likewise, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry revealed that all the members of the federal cabinet were not in the favour of removing former prime minister’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL). Fawad told media-persons that he also opposed the decision of sending Nawaz to London.

On the other hand, another section of the PTI believed that Nawaz’s departure would be beneficial politically as the same was done in Musharraf’s case by sending him abroad and easily ruling the country for the next five years.

“If Nawaz leaves the country, the government may focus on governance issues, holding local bodies’ elections and it may even secure next five years,” said another senior PTI leader.

He ruled out the possibility of foreign powers’ influence, suggesting the government to allow Nawaz to go abroad for medical treatment. Likewise, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain also urged the government to allow Nawaz to travel abroad immediately.

A PML-N senior lawyer was hopeful that the cabinet committee would recommend removal of Nawaz’s name from ECL today (Tuesday), saying that the PML-N chief was genuinely ill and the government could not afford to take any risk.

The PML-N leader wondered why NAB had not recommended the government to remove Nawaz’s name from the ECL, when the anti-corruption watchdog was well aware that Nawaz’s health was deteriorating in their custody and the family doctor was not allowed medical check-ups.

He contended that there was one or two precedent(s) wherein a convict was granted bail and went abroad for medical treatment. Likewise, he stated that Musharraf, who subverted the Constitution, was allowed to go abroad on medical grounds.

However, the legal experts believed that once the security establishment took the decision to allow Nawaz to depart for the UK for medical treatment then it would be highly unlikely for the cabinet to oppose the suggestion.

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