As former prime minister Nawaz Sharif awaits his removal from the Exit Control List (ECL), doctors on Sunday continued to struggle to get his platelet levels up to the required mark for travel to London.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that a high dose of steroids had been administered to Nawaz in preparation for his expected departure tomorrow (Monday).
"Doctors have warned against giving him such high doses of steroids repeatedly," she said. "They cannot risk any further damage in trying to get his platelet levels to rise."
Aurangzeb said that the drop in the former premier's platelet levels continues to worry doctors. "They are ambivalent about how to approach his treatment. They worry there might be a further deterioration in his health."
The PML-N leader said that if Nawaz's health worsens any further, it will be "almost impossible to take him abroad".
According to doctors "every single moment is precious" when it comes to getting Nawaz treated. "As time passes by, the threats to his health increase. It is imperative we send him abroad for treatment immediately," they said.
The Islamabad High Court had last week granted bail to Nawaz for eight weeks, suspending his seven-year sentence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference on medical grounds. Earlier, he had also secured bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case from the Lahore High Court on the same grounds.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday said that “legal obstacles” to Sharif's departure were being removed as doctors had stressed that medical treatment abroad was needed to save his life.
“The government has given importance to the doctors' opinion,” Qureshi told reporters in Multan.
“We pray to God for his recovery, so that he returns with good health and takes part in politics,” he added.
Delay in departure
The government on Saturday had delayed the removal of Nawaz’s name from the no-fly list, thus forcing a change in his plan to leave for London for treatment on Sunday.
Both the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Ministry of Interior couldn’t arrive at a decision regarding the removal of the name of the PML-N supremo from the ECL for one reason or another.
“Nawaz Sharif, 69, was due to leave for London on Sunday (today) morning on a PIA flight along with his brother Shehbaz Sharif. All arrangements were finalised but at the eleventh hour the PTI government played a trick and did not remove his name from the ECL,” a source told Dawn. He recalled that the government on Friday had stated that removal of Nawaz’s name from the no-fly list was just a formality.
Nawaz's daughter, Maryam Nawaz, will not be able to accompany her father abroad as she had to surrender her passport in order to secure her release on bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.
Interior ministry forwards ECL matter to NAB
The Interior Ministry had issued a statement on Friday, saying that it had received a formal application from Shehbaz for the removal of Nawaz's name from the ECL on health grounds and treatment abroad. It said it had referred the matter to NAB. Shehbaz had also sent a similar request to NAB.
The ministry had said it also forwarded Nawaz's health reports received from Sharif Medical City, Lahore to the "Standing Medical Board" for their input and review.
The statement said that the ministry took all necessary actions keeping in view the urgency of the matter as pleaded by Shehbaz Sharif in his request.
On Thursday, Aurangzeb had said that an emergency meeting of the board of doctors treating Nawaz had been called after his platelets dropped to a dangerous level again.
In a statement, she had said the doctors had declared Nawaz's condition “extremely critical”, adding that despite all possible treatments in Pakistan, his condition was not improving and it was recommended he seek treatment abroad.
The former prime minister was shifted to an intensive care unit (ICU) set up at his Jati Umra residence from the Services Hospital on Wednesday. The PML-N said the specialised ICU was set up at the residence on “doctors’ recommendations” and Sharif Medical City’s doctors would be available there round the clock.
During the course of treatment at the Services Institute of Medical Sciences where he had been admitted for 16 days, the former premier had suffered an angina attack, besides complaints of bleeding from gums and some other parts, because of his fluctuating platelets.