PM Nawaz returns to Pakistan after open-heart surgery in UK

Published July 9, 2016
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is greeted by government officials upon his arrival at Lahore airport. ─ PML-N Facebook page
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is greeted by government officials upon his arrival at Lahore airport. ─ PML-N Facebook page

LAHORE: The special flight carrying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif landed at Lahore as the premier returned to Pakistan after 48-day stay in the United Kingdom, DawnNews reported.

The flight arrived at Lahore airport’s Haj Terminal from where a helicopter took the premier to his residence in Raiwind.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafar ul Haq, federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Abid Sher Ali, Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana, members of the national and provincial assemblies and PML-N workers received the prime minister at the airport.

A close aide of the Sharif family Khawaja Ahmad Hassan said “the PM is healthy,” and that “the entire family and the party workers are happy about his return”.

Extra security arrangements have been made in and around the terminal on the occassion.

Nawaz returned home after recovering from a heart surgery that he underwent in the United Kingdom in May.

The premier had left his London residence for the airport to board the flight for Pakistan earlier in the day, DawnNews reported.

His daughter Maryam Nawaz had confirmed in a tweet on Friday that the prime minister will arrive in the country on Saturday evening. She also thanked well-wishers for their prayers for the PM's recovery.

A dedicated Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft has been deputed to transport Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his London camp office back to Pakistan.

"Now that the PM has recovered after his surgery and is allowed to travel, the whole camp office has to be shifted back to Pakistan. On PIA's regular flights, so many seats were not available, due to which the only option was to depute a dedicated aircraft," a statement issued by the airline said.

Panama crisis at home

Nawaz Sharif underwent open-heart surgery at a London hospital on May 31. The need for the surgery arose after the premier went through a cardiac procedure called Atrial Fibrillation Ablation in 2011, "during which certain complications occurred resulting in perforation of heart", Maryam Nawaz earlier told the media.

Many had called it a politically imprudent decision to leave the country at a time when opposition parties were exerting pressure on the government in the wake of the Panama leaks. However, a PML-N officer-bearer had told Dawn that Nawaz's medical condition necessitated the visit.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen last week said the party’s preparations for launching a "massive protest movement" over the Panama leaks soon after Eidul Fitr were in full swing.

Government and opposition leaders had agreed on May 18 to form a 12-member parliamentary committee — including six members each from both sides — that will draft the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the proposed commission to be headed by the country's top judge for holding an inquiry against those owning offshore companies as revealed in the Panama leaks.

Both government and opposition parties had agreed that besides concentrating on the individuals named in the Panama Papers, the committee will also go after those who received kickbacks and commissions, as well as those who had their loans written off illegally.

On May 31, the committee ended its fourth meeting without even discussing the issue.

According to independent observers, the committee may not reach consensus because both sides are poles apart as far as their expectations are concerned.

An investigation published April 3 by an international coalition of more than 100 media outlets ─ based on 11.5 million records and 2.6 terabytes of information drawn from the internal database of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca ─ details how politicians, celebrities and other famous people use banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets.

According to documents available on the ICIJ website, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's children Maryam, Hasan and Hussain "were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies".

The data leak revealed the financial wheelings and dealings of over 200 Pakistanis, including the late Benazir Bhutto, Rehman Malik and other prominent politicians and businessmen.

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