The Lahore High Court (LHC)’s decision on Friday to remove PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif from the blacklist to travel abroad for medical treatment has hit hard across the political divide. “Such a haste is not seen in a panchayat [village council] decisions”, tweeted Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. He lambasted the move a joke, while asking under which law of the land allows a man facing money laundering references to leave the country. It appears that recent history is repeating itself. In 2019, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, a convicted individual, was granted the same judicial courtesy when the LHC permitted him to travel to the United Kingdom to seek urgent medical treatment on the personal guarantee of the younger Sharif. Pakistan is still waiting for Nawaz to return. Social media tends to agree. “It looks like the repeat of the Nawaz Sharif case,” noted one. Meanwhile, PPP social media activists were quick to call out so-called ‘favours’ to Shehbaz as evidence of a clear-cut deal between the PMLN and the powers that be. The masses remain puzzled and their confidence is shaken in a system that only punishes the poor and lets the elite off scot-free, thereby suggesting that Prime Minister Imran Khan has lost this round in the fight against a corrupt system and all-powerful elite. The Sharifs have come to embody this, with much of the clan living abroad. This is not to mention the numerous foreign luxury properties. “They are absconders and everything is mentioned in the documents but still they manage to escape from everything,” one analyst added. The courts, however, see things differently. Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, in his remarks, stated that the accused, who had served as chief minister of Punjab thrice and is presently the Opposition leader in the National assembly, has been bailed and is appearing before the court. “What other guarantees do they require?” Justice Najafi asked the government’s counsel, who sought more time to consult other institutions in this matter. After the completion of the arguments, the court reserved its verdict in this case. The PMLN president had earlier approached the LHC with a petition seeking direction to the quarters concerned for removal of his name from the blacklist so that he could travel abroad on medical grounds. The former chief minister made the federation of Pakistan, the Federal Investigation Agency, and director-general Immigrations and Passport as respondents in the case. The opposition leader maintained that after the general elections in 2018, the incumbent government launched a smear campaign against him and that he is a victim of political victimisation at the hands of various executive authorities. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability & Interior Mirza Shehzad Akbar was also perturbed at the development. He said the man wanted in connection with a Rs7bn-money laundering case was fleeing the country to celebrate Eid with his son, and son-in-law, both of whom were also on the run. State institutions which prosecute such cases should be grilled over their performance, said one social media activist. Fawad went one step further, calling the verdict a “travesty of justice”. In another tweet, he said: “Instead of giving notice to the former chief minister for submitting a fake guarantee of calling back the former premier, he is being allowed to leave Pakistan.” The Information minister was also quick to maintain that the government would take all necessary legal measures against the court’s decision. “The opposition parties were not ready for legal reforms to fix the loopholes in the system because they are the ultimate beneficiaries of this rotten system”. Replying to Fawad’s fiery statement, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb stated that Shehbaz’s name was never placed on the no-fly list and alleged that his name was only added to the blacklist at the behest of the PM and that it smacked of political victimisation. The PML-N spokesperson said that the government could not add the former CM’s name on the blacklist as only “anti-state elements or terrorists are placed on such list”.