Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai with Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday.—Dawn
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai with Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday.—Dawn

LONDON: Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Saturday afternoon paid a visit to Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif in London to inquire after his health.

Mr Karzai was accompanied by Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Kingdom S. Tayeb Jawad. The visiting party was received at the entrance of Avenfield House by Nawaz’s sons Hassan and Hussein, who introduced themselves and led them inside to meet the former prime minister.

A short while later, PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif arrived at Avenfield House and joined the meeting.

After his visit, Mr Karzai spoke to reporters outside the apartment building and said: “I am delighted to have visited my brothers, Mian sahib and Shahbaz Sharif sahib. I came to inquire about the health of my good friend Mian sahib. I found him in good health. On my visits to Pakistan and his visit to Afghanistan he has been extremely kind and I was happy to see him in good health.”

Mr Karzai’s visit to London comes just days after he spoke at the Tehran Dialogue Forum and reaffirmed his support to Iran in the wake of the US targeted killing of Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike. Mr Karzai urged the US to exercise restraint and return to the nuclear deal with Iran. He also expressed hope that the EU, Russia and China would work towards this end. He thanked Iran for their contributions to Afghanistan’s stability after 9/11.

Shahbaz says Imran-led government is exerting pressure on opposition, pushing it against wall

In 2013, Mr Karzai met then newly elected prime minister Nawaz in Pakistan, at a time when US troops were preparing to begin their exit from Afghanistan. Although the visit came after years of deadlock and a huge trust deficit between the two countries on the thorny Afghan issue, the impact was difficult to assess as the trip came at a time when the clock was winding down on Karzai’s presidency.

Nawaz Sharif continues to undergo a range of tests for his cardiac and haematology complications, as doctors move to diagnose the reason for his low platelet count. Mr Sharif arrived in London on Nov 19 along with his brother Shahbaz Sharif after the government and courts granted him permission to travel abroad on medical grounds. Mr Sharif and members of his family have consulted several doctors, including those who specialise in cardiac issues and immune disorders. He arrived in London three weeks after he was granted bail by the Islamabad High Court in the Al-Azizia case on medical grounds.

Last month, Nawaz’s personal physician said the PML-N leader had been diagnosed with a complicated coronary disease and will undergo further scans before doctors begin treatment.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters after Mr Karzai departed from Avenfield House, Shahbaz Sharif said Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government were exerting pressure on the opposition and pushing it against a wall. “If he spent even a quarter of his energy fixing the economy then the situation would not be as bad,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2020