Cafe photo adds to PTI suspicion over Nawaz’s health

Updated 14 Jan 2020

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A PHOTO that went viral on social media appears to show PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Hasan Nawaz, Salman Shahbaz and Ishaq Dar at a London restaurant.
A PHOTO that went viral on social media appears to show PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Hasan Nawaz, Salman Shahbaz and Ishaq Dar at a London restaurant.

LAHORE: A fresh picture of ‘ailing’ former prime minister Nawaz Sharif taking tea at a London restaurant along with some members of his family, which went viral on social media on Monday, may cause problems for him in securing extension in his stay abroad from the PTI-led Punjab government which has become sceptical about the ‘serious nature’ of his health.

Federal Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry uploaded the leaked photo on his Twitter account in which the PML-N supremo appeared to be looking quite stable. Making a satirical comment, the outspoken minister said: “In London’s intensive care unit, the treatment against plundering is underway and all patients present (there) are feeling better.”

The picture was also reportedly discussed at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad. At the time of Mr Sharif’s departure for London in November, PM Khan had made a dig at him, saying doctors were of the opinion that “this man could die any minute if he did not go abroad for treatment. But he suddenly recovered and looked perfectly fine as he got a glimpse of the London-bound air ambulance.”

As the picture went viral, the Buzdar administration swung into action and sought latest reports about Mr Sharif’s health from his personal physician Dr Adnan Khan so that it could decide on his application seeking extension to stay abroad for treatment.

Punjab govt seeks fresh medical reports; Hussain defends Nawaz’s restaurant visit

The PML-N chided the PTI leaders for doing politics on Mr Sharif’s health, saying the government should come out from “Sharif phobia” and concentrate on addressing important issues facing the country.

“Doctors have advised Nawaz Sharif to go out for change of environment. They insist that staying indoors will not be good for his health. Therefore, Mr Sharif has started going out. On Sunday, Mr Sharif along with his family members had a walk to catch fresh air and had a tea in a restaurant,” a PML-N leader from London told Dawn. He made it clear that it had never been a case that Mr Sharif could not walk.

In the picture, Mr Sharif’s son Hasan, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, his son Salman and former finance minister Ishaq Dar are seen.

Nawaz Sharif had on Dec 23 sought extension in his stay abroad on the expiry of the four-week period allowed by the court to go to London for medical treatment. With his application, Mr Sharif attached his medical reports. However, the Punjab government, which could not decide on his application, sought fresh reports.

“We will submit fresh reports to the Punjab government in a few days,” the PML-N leader said and expressed the hope that the government would take a decision in the light of Mr Sharif’s medical reports and not on its bias against him. The Islamabad High Court had directed Mr Sharif to seek Punjab government’s permission for further relief, if needed.

It declared that until the provincial government decided the matter, the bail in the Al-Azizia case would remain in effect, adding that the court order would cease to exist if the government decided against extending the bail period.

Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had submitted an undertaking in the Lahore High Court, ensuring return of elder brother Nawaz within four weeks or as and when certified by the doctors that he has regained his health and is fit to return to Pakistan.

He had also undertaken to provide periodical reports of the doctor duly notarised by the embassy to the registrar of the LHC. The undertaking includes a clause that states that the Pakistan High Commission would have the right to meet Nawaz’s doctors to verify or confirm about his health, if at any stage the federal government got credible information that the former premier was living abroad despite being fit to travel.

The former premier in his undertaking pledged to return to Pakistan citing his record to face the process of law and justice within four weeks or as soon as he is declared healthy and fit to travel. “I also do hereby bind myself to the undertaking given by my brother Shahbaz Sharif.”

Nawaz Sharif, who was diagnosed with an immune system disorder, has been advised by a government’s panel of doctors to go abroad for treatment. Mr Sharif had been diagnosed with a complicated coronary disease. In London, he underwent comprehensive cardiovascular evaluation and investigations at Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital. According to Dr Adnan Khan, Mr Sharif has been diagnosed with “complicated coronary artery / ischemic heart disease with significant disease burden. Cardiac perfusion scans scheduled.”

Hospital visits

Speaking to reporters in London, Hussain Nawaz, while commenting on criticism being levelled against his father, said Nawaz had been confined to the house and to hospital visits, but that during the Christmas vacation his hospital visits were not possible.

“The report submitted in LHC says that doctors have advised him to walk twice a day. But despite this advice, Mian sb could not walk as he experienced shortness of breath and palpitations.

“Yesterday (Sunday) around 4.30pm the family told him you must leave the house and after great persuasion he agreed. We took him out for a walk and for a breath of fresh air. It is unfortunate that it is being given a political twist. This is part of his treatment. This is why Pakistan’s courts have allowed him to travel abroad for treatment,” he said.

Atika Rehman contributed to this report from London

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020