LAHORE: The medical board treating former prime minister Nawaz Sharif at the Services Hospital for the last two weeks on Tuesday recommended his treatment abroad keeping in view complications of his disease.

“We have recommended genetic tests followed by cardiac treatment under one roof which requires more diagnosis to provide further treatment to Nawaz Sharif. The panel of doctors has come to a unanimous decision that since the complete genetic test facility is not available in Pakistan, the patient requires treatment abroad,” the medical board head and Services Institute of Medical Sciences principal Prof Dr Mahmood Ayaz told Dawn.

“Doctors have provided best treatment to the patient [Mr Sharif] here. The patient is stable as compared to the initial days when he was shifted to the hospital. However, his platelets are not stable and the doctors recommended his treatment abroad,” he said, adding that during the course of treatment the former premier had suffered an angina attack, besides complaints of bleeding from gums and some other parts, because of frequent changes in platelet count.

Interior minister hints at facilitating former PM’s travel; PML-N says party supremo’s name still on ECL

The medical board consisting of four senior and leading haematologists has diagnosed immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) disease — a disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding — in the patient.

Dr Ayaz said the doctors had so far given Mr Sharif seven mega units to improve his platelets which were currently ranging between 30,000 and 40,000. “We are controlling blood pressure and sugar of the patient. He has also been advised exercise and walk,” he said.

Mr Sharif’s personal physician Dr Adnan Khan said: “Former PM Sharif’s platelet count remains below acceptable cut-off line 30,000 thereby it is unsafe to introduce DAPT [blood thinner medicines] to minimise threat of a cardiac event and/or stroke. The risk of spontaneous bleeding still remains.”

He added: “Mr Sharif’s critical unstable clinical picture warrants aggressive management. The underlying cause and a definitive diagnosis is unestablished requiring further extensive clinical work-up without delay.”

According to the doctors, 50,000 platelets and beyond are required for a patient to be declared fit for [air] travel.

A source told Dawn that the doctors had briefed Maryam Nawaz on her father’s condition and his treatment abroad. “After the doctors’ briefing on the medical complications of Mr Sharif, Maryam told her father about the doctors’ advice that he would have to go abroad for treatment,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a medical team of the Sharif Medical City (SMC) in Raiwind arrived at the Services Hospital to shift the former premier to this facility which is near his residence. It was also established by the Sharif family.

The source said that since Maryam’s release order in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case was not issued and she couldn’t move to the other health facility, Mr Sharif refused to go there. “Nawaz Sharif may move to the Sharif Medical City on Wednesday after the release of Maryam,” he added.

Dr Mahmood Ayaz said Mr Sharif himself had expressed his wish to extend his stay at the Services Hospital for a couple of days. “A medical team of the Sharif Medical City examined Nawaz Sharif and suggested keeping him under treatment at the Services Hospital,” he said.

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s son Ali Dar tweeted that arrangements had been made at the SMC to shift Nawaz Sharif.

A source in the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) told Dawn that the doctors treating Mr Sharif were worried about his health because of continuous drop in platelets which was yet to be diagnosed. “Whatever treatment the doctors had in Pakistan they tried and exhausted and their advice [for Mr Sharif’s treatment aboard] cannot be ignored,” he said.

Asked if Mr Sharif would consider leaving for London for his treatment on the doctors’ advice as he earlier appeared reluctant, the PML-N source said: “Whenever his going abroad is decided it will be the doctors and his [Mr Sharif] decision.”

PML-N stalwarts Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal have already declared that leaving the country for treatment will solely be the decision of Nawaz Sharif.

“The party has decided not to force Mr Sharif to go abroad for treatment. Mian Sahib’s condition is serious. It will only be his own decision about going abroad for treatment. We will not push him for this,” Mr Asif had said.

ECL confusion

“If going abroad for treatment is the only option for Nawaz Sharif, then the government will find a way,” a private TV channel quoted Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Shah as saying on Tuesday.

The minister had last week disclosed that the name of Mr Sharif was not on the Exit Control List (ECL). “I checked the record and we did not put Nawaz Sharif on ECL,” he had said.

The PML-N disputed Mr Shah’s claim, saying his [Mr Sharif] name is still on the ECL and the government tried to hoodwink on the issue. A PML-N leader told Dawn that even during the hearing of Mr Sharif’s bail plea in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, a federal law officer had informed the Lahore High Court that the names of both Mr Sharif and his daughter Maryam were on the ECL.

He said the party would not move the court to get the name of Mr Sharif removed from the ECL. “We will see the Imran Khan government’s tactics in this regard,” he added.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan was not available for a comment to clear the air on this matter.

The Islamabad High Court had last week granted bail to Nawaz Sharif for eight weeks, suspending his seven-year sentence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference on medical grounds. Earlier, the former prime minister had secured bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case from the LHC on the similar ground.

On Dec 24 last year, an accountability court had sentenced the former prime minister to seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia case but acquitted him in the Flagship reference. The court in its short order had said that there was solid evidence against Mr Sharif and he could not provide a money trail in the Al-Azizia case.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2019