LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with his mother before leaving for London on Wednesday.—INP
LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with his mother before leaving for London on Wednesday.—INP

LONDON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived here on Wednesday for a medical check-up.

Talking to journalists after his arrival, the premier brushed aside all rumours back home about his government. He said he had come to London simply for a medical check-up.

Mr Sharif said the government needed the nation’s support as it was working to provide relief to the masses and recalled his role as leader of the opposition when “I lent complete support to the PPP government”.

He said his party neither tried to bring down elected governments nor supported steps which could have weakened the democratic system.

“The prosperity of the country is close to my heart. I want development and progress of the motherland and never compromised on these objectives for the sake of power,” he added.

Amjad Mahmood in Lahore adds: Before leaving for London, the prime minister underwent a medical check-up and also held consultations with his close aides at the Lahore airport. The participants included Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

The prime minister had a stopover in Moscow en route to London and Chaudhry Nisar, while talking to journalists, explained that it was done on doctors’ advice.

But one wonders when his condition was so serious that he could not take a direct flight to London, why he did not opt for an air ambulance.

Although not a politically prudent decision to leave the country at a time when opposition parties are exerting pressure on the government in the wake of the Panama leaks, the same reason necessitated the visit, a PML-N office-bearer told Dawn.

“The prime minister was looking quite weak when he visited the Planning and Development Ministry a few days ago and the disclosures of his sons’ involvement in offshore business definitely had its political and health costs,” he added.

He said that apparently due to a mistake by surgeons during a previous medical procedure in London, Mr Sharif had bled profusely. He recovered, but not completely, and was advised to take breaks from his engagements for further treatment.

Meanwhile, the prime minister’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, used her twitter account to dispel rumours that there were differences in the family over their future after the Panama leaks.

“Contrary to the conspiracy-mongers, Sharif family is neither under any stress nor is there a schism. We stand united,” said her tweet hours after the prime minister’s departure.

Some journalists and observers have come up with claims that the Sharif has decided to promote Shahbaz Sharif as prime minister and his son Hamza Shahbaz as chief minister.

In an earlier tweet, Ms Maryam also posted a picture depicting the prime minister kissing his mother’s hand before the departure.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2016

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