LAHORE: The Punjab government on Thursday reaffirmed its consent to give every kind of treatment facility to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in need of cardiac care, as well as offered that Mr Sharif’s doctor in the UK could also be consulted through teleconference.
The Punjab Assembly [at the outset] entered into a discussion on Mr Sharif’s health, who is serving a seven-year term in a corruption case in Kot Lakhpat jail, with opposition chiding the government for ignoring proper medical care for the PML-N supreme leader.
Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja retorted that the opposition had also raised Mr Sharif’s health issue on Wednesday but did not bother to listen to the treasury’s point of view and resorted to a walkout.
“If the opposition is really concerned about Mr Sharif’s health, it should have listened to the treasury’s point of view and find amicable solution to deal with the highly sensitive case,” he said.
Asserting that no excesses were being committed against Mr Sharif nor politics being played by the Punjab government, the law minister said the government was even ready to shift Mr Sharif to the Shifa Hospital in Islamabad, where electrophysiological test facility was available. “If the patient will give his assent, the government will shift him to a hospital of his choice within an hour,” he added.
Govt comes up with various options; speaker forms panel to evolve medical plan for PML-N leader
On Speaker Pervaiz Elahi’s intervention whether Mr Sharif’s UK-based doctor could be called in Pakistan, the law minister said the government would readily recommend to the federal government to consider the demand.
Asserting that neither he nor the treasury wanted to do point scoring on Mr Sharif’s health, the speaker asked as to why the PML-N did not create [sophisticated] healthcare facility during their one-decade rule in the province.
Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said Mr Sharif was earlier admitted to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and then his tests were conducted in the Services Hospital. On medical board’s advice later, Dr Rashid said the government offered him treatment at any multi-facility hospitals – Jinnah, Sheikh Zayed and Mayo.
She said elaborate arrangements were made at Jinnah Hospital and added that she personally continued getting reports about Mr Sharif’s [health] condition.
When the doctors concerned decided to do angiography, she said, Mr Sharif did not agree to go to the PIC. She said Mr Sharif was sent back to jail after ascertaining that his health condition was fine.
Referring to a demand for treatment by the UK doctor, the health minister said the government could arrange teleconference and discuss all investigations for his advice. She said the patient could also be taken to Shifa Hospital for electrophysiological tests.
Earlier, PML-N’s Dr Mazhar said Mr Sharif’s [proper] treatment was not available in Pakistan and even the electrophysiological experts were self-trained and could not offer sophisticated treatment.
PML-N’s Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan said the successive medical boards were giving recommendations for Mr Sharif’s treatment but the government did not pay heed.
He, however, agreed to law minister’s proposal to sit, discuss and recommend for Mr Sharif.
Later, the speaker constituted a committee comprising law and health ministers as well as three members from the opposition to discuss and find a way out for best available treatment.
CM’s SPOKESMAN: Later in the evening, chief minister’s spokesman Dr Shahbaz Gill on the advice of the premier and CM visited Mr Sharif in the Kot Lakhpat jail and offered him all kind of treatment facilities within the ambit of law.
Stating that he had a 45-minute candid meeting with Mr Sharif along with a senior journalist, Dr Gill said the prisoner was assured that all the best available treatment would be made available in any public sector hospital. He said the senior journalist also offered that the government could also be requested, if he wanted to go to some private hospital. “Mr Sharif did not show any eagerness,” he said.
Dr Gill said professors of cardiology Dr Shahid and Dr Saqib, who accompanied him, assured Mr Sharif that they could treat him well with facilities available in the Punjab hospitals. He said the cardiologists also told Mr Sharif that a three-day [cardiology] conference was being held in Islamabad and the foreign experts could also be called at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology for advice and treatment.
The chief minister’s spokesman said the Punjab government was also ready to invite Mr Sharif’s UK-based consultant Dr Baker and provide him full security and facilities to treat him. He said Dr Baker and another consultant could also be taken on video-conference for Mr Sharif’s treatment. Asserting that the CM did not want to politicise anyone’s health, Dr Gill said, “Mr Sharif is apparently waiting for his bail on an application moved in the Supreme Court and then decide accordingly”.
Earlier in the day, Mr Sharif’s daughter Maryam, mother Shamim Akhtar and grandson Junaid visited him at Kot Lakhpat jail to make another abortive attempt for convincing him to avail healthcare facilities at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC).
The ex-premier had declined the government’s healthcare offer a day ago and requested his mother to go home and pray for him instead of forcing him to accept the offer which, he said, was aimed at humiliating him.
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2019