Court orders former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif removed from no-fly list

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Supporters of Pakistani former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chant slogans outside the Lahore High court, in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP)
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Supporters of Pakistani former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif react to the court's decision in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Court orders former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif removed from no-fly list

  • Pakistan’s ailing ex-premier granted four-week stay abroad for treatment

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Saturday ordered the government to remove former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the country’s exit control list for four weeks with no conditions attached. Shahbaz Sharif, president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), filed a petition on Friday challenging the government to allow Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for medical treatment.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najfi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem heard the case and prepared a draft of Shahbaz’s undertaking to guarantee his brother’s return, ensuring permission to travel would not be used to engineer a second exile.
Shahbaz Sharif’s lawyer, Ashtar Ausaf, told local media that the draft had been accepted by the party.
Nawaz Sharif, 69, who has held the country’s top political office three times, is serving a seven-year sentence on corruption charges and was granted bail on health grounds.
The government approved his request to allow him to seek treatment abroad, but with a 7 billion rupee ($45.2 million) bond specifying his date of return — conditions that he rejected.
Shahbaz said the government’s conditional approval was an “intentional delay” with “no legal, constitutional or judicial basis.”


Nawaz Sharif, 69, is serving a seven-year sentence on corruption charges and was granted bail on health grounds.

Addressing reporters in Lahore, Shahbaz said that the government’s “terrible demand” could be life-threatening to the ailing former premier whose health was rapidly deteriorating.
Law Minister Farogh Naseem said on Wednesday that the government’s approval “will be a one-time permission” and that “Sharif will be allowed to go anywhere in the world but will have to return in four weeks.”
Permission was granted to fulfill the government’s obligation in view of the former prime minister’s “critical medical condition,” he said.
PML-N Chairman Raja Zafrul Haq told Arab News that the government is admitting that Sharif is seriously ill, but is also creating hurdles to stop him traveling abroad for treatment.
“The court has granted him an eight-week bail, but the government is reducing that to four weeks and imposing an irrational condition. It is to be condemned and we strongly protest this decision,” he said.

Tech-savvy Indonesians go off-grid to help to remote villages fight virus

Updated 04 July 2020

Tech-savvy Indonesians go off-grid to help to remote villages fight virus

  • Young volunteers tackle tough terrain, pandemic myths in isolated northern region

JAKARTA: A group of tech-savvy young locals in Indonesia’s northern North Halmahera regency is spreading awareness about the dangers of COVID-19 in remote corners of the archipelago at a time when bureaucracy has impeded a rapid response to the pandemic.

The Relawan Merah Putih, or Red and White Volunteers, includes a multimedia expert, university students, lecturers, civil servants and a web developer in Tobelo, the main city of North Halmahera in North Maluku province, about 2,500 km from the capital Jakarta.

The city is located on Halmahera island, part of the Maluku Islands, Indonesia’s fabled Spice Islands on the northeastern part of the sprawling archipelago.

Stevie Recaldo Karimang, a 28-year-old freelance photographer and videographer, told Arab News that he set up the group after social restrictions introduced to counter the pandemic put him out of business. 

He quickly developed a website on the pandemic and created online flyers and audiovisual materials that he and 31 other volunteers distributed on social media platforms and messaging apps to educate the public about the pandemic soon after the first cases in Indonesia were confirmed in Jakarta in early March.

“We translated the information we took from the national COVID-19 task force into the market language spoken here, which is a mixture of Indonesian and the local dialect, to make it more understandable for the locals,” Karimang said.

The group also used a drone to issue public warnings against mass gatherings.

“The drone helped to remind people not to form a crowd when social restrictions were enforced. We attached a flashlight to the device to catch the crowd’s attention, and we were able to dismiss such gatherings.”

But the volunteers shifted their efforts to rural areas after the first coronavirus case in North Maluku province was confirmed on March 23.

Jubhar Mangimbulude, a microbiology expert at Halmahera University and the group’s adviser, said the team had visited 30 isolated villages out of 196 townships in the regency, which is home to 161 million people.

“We reached one village after hours of driving over rough terrain. We have to use four-wheel-drive vehicles because along the way we may have to cross a river where the bridge is damaged,” he told Arab News.

Mangimbulude said that many villagers were unaware of the pandemic and only knew from TV that a dangerous virus was spreading quickly and infecting people. He was glad to find that no COVID-19 cases had been detected among the villagers.

But he acknowledged that misinformation was rife and said that he had to debunk myths about “how alcohol could be used to prevent the disease.”

“The villagers heard that the virus can be killed with heat in one’s body, and since drinking alcohol can warm the body, they encouraged their children and elders to drink a local alcoholic beverage made of fermented sugar palm fruit,” Mangimbulude said.

Fellow volunteer Oscar Berthomene, a local civil servant, said that the group was able to move faster than the regency administration whose bureaucracy slowed down the response to the pandemic.

“I have support from my supervisor, and we were able to help their activities with cars to allow them to move around,” he told Arab News.

The regency has about 18 percent of the 953 cases in the province, which make up about 1.5 percent of the national total of 62,142 as of Saturday.