Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who is serving a seven-year jail term for corruption and money laundering, left for London Tuesday to receive medical treatment there.
Sharif boarded an air-ambulance arranged by his family from his native city of Lahore. His younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, the head of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, also accompanied the ailing politician.
The 69-year-old Sharif was released on bail last month on medical grounds. But his personal doctors and legal aides had maintained from the outset his deteriorating health and multiple medical complications required him to seek treatment of his choice outside Pakistan.
However, Sharif could not undertake the journey until last Saturday when a high court responded to his request and ordered the government to remove his name from a so-called “exit control list” that prevents suspects or convicts from leaving Pakistan.
The judicial verdict gave Sharif four weeks to receive treatment abroad, with the court saying the duration can be extended further if required. But it placed certain conditions to bind Sharif to return to Pakistan after receiving the treatment to serve his prison sentence and face several other ongoing cases of corruption against him, explained the attorney general following the verdict.
Sharif’s party insists he has no plans to seek exile and will return home.
But government officials suspect those claims, saying five Sharif family members, including his two sons, previously left Pakistan and have not returned to appear in courts in corruption cases against them. The London-based family members have all been declared absconders by Pakistani courts.
Sharif was forced by the Supreme Court to step down from office in 2017 for concealing foreign family assets before he was convicted and sentenced to a seven-year jail term by an anti-graft court a year later for corruption and money laundering.
He was thrice elected as prime minister since the early 1990s but all of his administrations ended prematurely amid allegations of widespread corruption and poor governance, though Sharif and his party reject the charges as politically motivated.