Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Punjab government to give former prime minister Nawaz Sharif access to any hospital or doctor of his choice for medical treatment, according to an update shared on Twitter by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday.
As per Chaudhry, the premier has directed the Punjab government to provide the former premier with the best facilities for treatment and called for the recommendations of a medical board that recently examined Sharif to be implemented.
Later, while briefing the media on cabinet decisions made in Islamabad this afternoon, Chaudhry said the direction "indicates that the PTI government has no personal enmity with any person", Radio Pakistan reported.
The minister noted that corruption cases against Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari were filed during the tenures of previous governments and incumbent government has nothing to do with these.
Nonetheless, "the government will not pervert the course of justice or obstruct the work of the National Accountability Bureau to benefit any influential personality," he was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan.
Separately, Chief Minister Punjab's Spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill shared that he had met with the former prime minister on the directives of Prime Minister Khan and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.
While addressing a press conference after the meeting, Gill said that he hoped God would give Nawaz — and everyone in Pakistan who was unwell — good health. He said that "politics is one thing, and a person's health another".
The spokesperson shared that his interaction with Nawaz was very candid and the two had also shared a cup of tea together. He added that a very senior journalist, who he did not name, had also gone along for the visit.
Two senior professors and doctors were also present during the meeting between Gill and Nawaz.
He said that Nawaz's health seemed fine. As per Gill, the former premier told him he occasionally experienced pain, as a result of which he had to take medication.
Gill noted that when you have had a bypass or if you are diabetic, you need to take medication for life. "This is normal procedure," he said.
He noted that the medical board which examined Sharif had said that any arterial blockage should be examined with an angiography. While clarifying that he was not saying anything for certain, Gill said that, according to doctors, if there was an angiography they would be able to figure out how to remove any blockage, such as through a stent.
Gill said he had once again assured the former premier that if he wanted to be shifted to any government health facility, he would be. He also offered that Sharif consult with any doctor he wishes to consult with via video link.
He added that the senior journalist who had accompanied him had also offered that if Sharif wanted to be shifted to a private hospital instead, he (the journalist) could talk to the government in this regard. However, Gill said Nawaz did not show any eagerness or positive response to the idea.
"If he had I would have asked the Punjab chief minister for permission," said Gill and added that it seemed like Nawaz wanted to wait for his bail application, which was in the Supreme Court, and then take any other decision.
Concerns over deteriorating health
Nawaz is serving a seven-year jail term awarded to him in the Al Azizia corruption case at the Kot Lakhpat jail. In recent days, his family members as well as PML-N members have raised concern about the former prime minister's reportedly deteriorating health and treatment.
In an update shared on Twitter on Wednesday, Nawaz's daughter Maryam Nawaz said Thursday was a specified day for visits; however, as her father was not well, no visits would be possible.
The same day Maryam said she was on the way to Kot Lakhpat jail to visit her father along with her grandmother. She expressed hopes that her grandmother would be able to convince Nawaz to shift to a hospital as he had "never said no to her".
Additionally, PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif met with Nawaz on Wednesday. In a tweet, he said that his brother had severe pain his arm and added that he was unable to convince Nawaz to shift to a hospital.
He voiced concern that the pain in Nawaz's arm could be the symptom of "something serious" and appealed to supporters to pray for his health.
The deteriorating health and treatment of the former premier also reverberated in the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday, when immediately after the start of the session, former speaker Rana Iqbal Ahmed took the rostrum and asked the chair to pass a judgment on the issue. The opposition later walked out of the provincial assembly.
Court rejects bail
Last month, on February 25, the Islamabad High Court had rejected a petition seeking the release of Sharif on bail on medical grounds.
"None of the reports [about Sharif's condition] suggest that continued incarceration of the petitioner, in any way, would be detrimental to his life," the court's detailed judgement had said.
According to the judgement: "The petitioner [Sharif] has been hospitalised time and again since January, 2019, whenever he made complaints about his indisposition. In fact, the reports of board of doctors and various teams constituted are indicative of the fact that petitioner is receiving best possible medical treatment available to any individual in Pakistan."