Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 11 December 2019

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif to fly to London for medical treatment

He has been allowed to leave the country for four weeks after his doctors said he had become dangerously ill serving a corruption sentence

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted of corruption, has left the country and is traveling to London for medical treatment. AP 
Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted of corruption, has left the country and is traveling to London for medical treatment. AP 

Pakistan's jailed former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has been flown to London for medical treatment after weeks of legal and political tussles over his health.

The three-times prime minister left by air ambulance and was due to arrive in London early on Tuesday evening, before heading to the US.

The 69-year-old leader of the ousted Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party has been allowed to leave the country for four weeks after his doctors said he had become dangerously ill serving a corruption sentence.

Sharif has given assurances he will return, but his departure has led to intense speculation he is closing in on an amnesty deal with Imran Khan's government to gain his freedom and enter exile. Ousted leaders have made similar political exits in recent decades. Sharif left for Saudi Arabia for seven years after he was toppled in a coup. His successor Gen Pervez Musharraf, is currently in exile in Dubai with a treason case pending against him.

Sharif's doctors say he has suffered from heart problems and an immune system condition and the platelets in his bloodstream, which aid clotting, have fallen to dangerously low levels. He left in an air ambulance equipped with an intensive care unit and operating table.

"Nawaz Sharif will go to Boston after going through a detailed check-up in London. During his travel, he will stay in Doha for two hours," Sharif's close aide Pervaiz Rashid told

Reuters.

Sharif's declining health had become a political headache Mr Khan and detailed reports of his medical condition have dominated the media. Mr Khan rose to power on promises to prosecute the corrupt political leaders of the past and he has rejected any possibility of an amnesty. A raft of senior opposition leaders, including Mr Sharif, have been detained or jailed in recent months in an anti-corruption purge since Mr Khan took power last year. His opponents say opponents are being targeted in a politically-motivated witch hunt to crush the opposition.

Yet Mr Khan's political allies had warned he risked appearing callous and as though he was victimising Sharif by refusing him treatment abroad. Sharif has always denied corruption and remained a political giant despite being behind bars. He was sentenced to seven years for corruption, but has been on bail for the past month.

The government at first insisted Sharif pay a Dh165 million bond to insure his return, before he left for treatment. But a high court then ruled the former PM could leave without paying the bond.

Local television stations broadcast footage of Sharif being helped to board the plane. His younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, who is the head of PML-N, is accompanying him along with his physician Adnan Khan.

On Monday, Mr Khan again dismissed the chances of an amnesty, saying there would be no escape from accountability. But his denials have failed to silence speculation that a deal is in the offing.

Updated: November 19, 2019 09:38 PM

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