ISLAMABAD / LONDON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will undergo an open-heart surgery in London on Tuesday, a senior government official disclosed on Friday night.

Special assistant and spokesman for the prime minister Musadik Malik told the electronic media that Mr Sharif was likely to remain hospitalised for at least one week, adding that he would return home only after doctors’ permission.

He said the premier would be administered medicines for three days to be followed by the surgery.


Ishaq Dar to manage the routine matters of govt, says Musadik


Mr Malik said that all affairs of the state would continue as per the law of the land, adding that Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar would be responsible for managing the routine matters of the government.

He said the doctors had decided for an angioplasty treatment on the basis of medical tests conducted last week but later they decided for the surgery.

Senior lawyer and Pakistan Bar Council’s vice chairman Dr Farogh Naseem told Dawn that there was no concept of an acting prime minister in the 1973 Constitution. “The Constitution is silent [on it].”

He said that the Constitution was very clear about who would be the acting head of the state in the absence of the president, but it had no provision as to who would be the chief executive of the country if the prime minister was temporarily incapacitated.

The chairman of the Senate or the speaker of the National Assembly becomes the acting president whenever the president leaves the country or resigns or passes away.

Dr Naseem agreed that it was a lacuna in the Constitution.

When asked whether a senior minister can run the government affairs as the chief executive, the senior lawyer, who is also a senator, replied that there could be a senior minister or even deputy prime minister, but “there shall be no acting prime minister”.

He did not give a direct reply when asked whether the country came to a standstill during the period of PM Nawaz Sharif’s hospitalisation in London. “I don’t know ... Legally, the government is without a chief executive.”

Hours before Musadik Malik broke the news, a source familiar with the PM’s entourage’s movements in the UK had said that Mr Sharif would stay in London until Sunday or Monday.

Earlier, sources said that Mr Sharif’s advisers and family had considered the possibility of the PM travelling to the US for treatment because of the advice that medical facilities would be better there. The Pakistan ambassador in the US had been told to expect Mr Sharif’s arrival on the government’s Gulfstream 450 jet piloted by a PAF officer.

Within a few hours, however, the ambassador was told that he could stand down as the decision had been taken for Mr Sharif’s extended stay in London for more tests and further medical opinions.

In advance of the trip to London, officials at PM House insisted that the visit was a private one undertaken for medical reasons and with no official engagements. Both UK and Pakistani officials refused to comment on whether the prime minister had held meetings with the British government representatives during his stay.

Mr Sharif’s medical tests were carried out at the Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea. The hospital is known as a leader in the treatment of heart and lung diseases. Mr Sharif’s condition dates back to 2008.

The PM’s visit to London was his second this year. He was also in the UK capital in April when he also received medical attention at the Royal Brompton.

His London trip led to some protests with activists organising rival demonstrations. Supporters of the PTI’s UK wing held a protest outside the PM’s residence holding banners and placards, and chanting slogans about the offshore accounts.

In response, PML-N announced plans to hold a protest outside the home of Imran Khan’s former wife Jemima Goldsmith on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz, the prime minister’s daughter, confirmed in a Twitter posting that Mr Sharif would be undergoing an open-heart surgery on Tuesday. “Prayers are the most effect & potent medicine. Millions will pray for him. IA he’ll be fine,” she said.

Dr Arif Alvi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in a tweet said: “I pray for the good health of Mr Nawaz Sharif PM of Pakistan...wish him early recovery IA.”

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2016

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