Reports show no progress in Nawaz's treatment in London, says Punjab health minister

Updated January 14, 2020

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Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid addressing a press conference in Lahore on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid addressing a press conference in Lahore on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

After fresh pictures of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif at a restaurant in London circulated on social media raising questions about his health, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid on Tuesday said reports submitted by the PML-N supremo's team were insufficient.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Rashid said that a special medical board looking at Nawaz's health had met on January 3 and after reviewing all the reports submitted by Nawaz's team, they said the reports had not shared any new information or any new investigation.

The former premier is currently in London for medical treatment. On December 23, 2019, he had sought an extension in his stay abroad on the expiry of the four-week period granted by the Lahore High Court. Following his request, the Punjab government constituted a four-member committee to decide on it and on Friday the provincial government sought fresh medical reports to make an "informed decision".

While addressing today's press conference, Rashid said that Nawaz's physician in London, David R. Lawrence, had sent a letter which was "very similar" to the summary earlier issued by the government regarding the former premier's health.

According to the provincial health minister, Nawaz's earlier medical history had been shared in the letter along with a summary of the government's report.

Additionally, she said another letter was attached which stated that a positron emission tomography (PET) scan was being arranged at London Bridge Hospital. The provincial health minister added that they had offered to conduct Nawaz's PET scan in Pakistan as well, however, he had declined the offer. The letter also mentioned that a lymph node biopsy had been recommended.

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.— File
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.— File

On Monday, a picture of Nawaz at a London restaurant along with some members of his family was circulated on social media.

Rashid said that after she saw the picture of the former premier at the restaurant she called his personal physician Dr Adnan Khan.

"On the one hand, you say he is in a very critical condition [...] then tell us, is it a part of it that you are socialising? Is it a part of the treatment?"

The provincial health minister said that the PML-N was seeking an application for Nawaz's daughter Maryam Nawaz to go and care of her father.

"Where will she take care of him? At a restaurant? You take care of a person who is bedridden, which he is not, according to them, he was moving around."

Rashid said that responding to them (PML-N) in a letter, the government has said, as per the report of the medical board, the "documents provided are not sufficient to form a conclusive opinion".

The provincial minister added that the home department had directly written a letter to Nawaz on Monday in which it had said: "I am directed to intimate that the special medical board under the convenership of Dr Muhammad Ayaz [...] examined the medical document and concluded that the medical reports are not conclusive to form any medical opinion.

"The most recent laboratory and imaging reports have to be sought from your doctor," the letter stated. Rashid said she had reiterated the same to Dr Adnan Khan.

As per Rashid, the letter stated: "You are required to provide the latest medical report within 48 hours as it has been stated in recent media reports that you seem to be in good health and socialising also."

Meanwhile, Dr Adnan Khan shared Nawaz's medical reports, dated January 13, on Twitter along with copies of various scans of the former premier.

Khan said the reports were submitted to government authorities as well directly to the relevant minister and officials.

Later in the day, prime minister's aide Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the "government has not received officially stamped, authentic and certified reports [which] had been tweeted".

While briefing the press about the federal cabinet meeting, Awan said that the Punjab government had written to the Sharif family to send updates of Nawaz's "latest health situation" within 48 hours.

'Political spectacle'

Reacting to Rashid's press conference, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the provincial health minister "should go to London herself" if she wants to check on Nawaz's health.

"What was the point of staging a political spectacle?" Aurangzeb said in a statement, adding: "Yasmeen Rashid held a press conference based on lies under pressure from Imran sahib."

Aurangzeb said that a medical board, which was being headed by Rashid had advised the former premier to travel abroad for medical treatment and that the Punjab health minister had signed Nawaz's reports herself. She further said that Nawaz's health reports were being sent to the Punjab government and the court regularly as per judicial orders.

The PML-N spokesperson urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to "focus on public health as Nawaz Sharif's health was in safe hands".

Questions over Nawaz's health

Amid bickering between the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and PML-N, on November 19, 2019, Nawaz reached London for medical treatment.

Yesterday, a picture of the former premier at a restaurant along with his son Hasan Nawaz, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, his son Salman Shehbaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar was shared on social media.

Federal Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry uploaded the leaked photo on Twitter. Making a satirical comment, Chaudhry 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.

Speaking to reporters in London, Hussain Nawaz, while commenting on criticism being levelled against his father, said Nawaz had been confined to his 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 sahib 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.