ISLAMABAD - A court in Pakistan has ordered former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's prison sentence suspended for eight weeks so he can receive medical treatment.
He is serving a seven-year sentence in a corruption case that he and his party say is politically motivated.
The former premier has been suffering serious health problems in jail, and his family and party accused the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan of denying him proper care.
“He is fighting for his life in a hospital and the responsibility for his poor health lies squarely on Mr. Imran Khan, who publicly announced that he will withdraw all facilities,” Ahsan Iqbal, a senior leader of Sharif’s party Pakistan Muslim League, said Tuesday.
Iqbal accused Khan of withdrawing critical medical services and denying Sharif’s personal physician unrestricted access to his patient.
“He [Khan] has been settling scores with him, political scores, at the cost of his [Sharif’s] health,” Iqbal said.
Multiple medical boards over several months recommended Sharif be moved to a hospital from a jail cell in Punjab province before action was finally taken last week when his personal doctor raised alarm about his dangerously low platelet count. Platelets are colorless cells that help blood clot. The normal range in a human body is between 150,000 to 450,000, but Sharif’s count dropped to as little as 2,000 at one point, according to local media reports.
Sharif’s personal physician, Dr. Adnan Khan, said Tuesday doctors had not yet diagnosed the reason for the destruction of platelets in the former premier's body.
"He [Nawaz] is still unstable. I have never seen him in such an alarming condition,” he said.
Punjab’s chief minister, Usman Buzdar, assured the court his administration was providing the best possible care to the former premier. Prime Minister Khan and his party said the allegation of denied medical care to Sharif was politically motivated.
“Political differences notwithstanding, my sincere prayers are with Nawaz Sharif for his health,” Khan tweeted. “I have directed all concerned to ensure provision of the best possible health care and medical treatment to him.”
Reacting to the court’s decision Tuesday, Pakistan’s information minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan, said her party “wanted to see a healthy Nawaz Sharif as a political rival.”
Sharif is undergoing care for heart and liver issues, as well as problems with his blood pressure and immune system.
His daughter and heir-apparent, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who also is under arrest in a corruption case, was moved to the same hospital as her father last week after she fell ill.