Former Pakistani PM Sharif granted medical bail, still in custody

Court grants jailed Sharif bail on medical grounds, as ailing political leader receives treatment for immune disorder.

Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz Sharif remains in custody based on a conviction in a separate corruption case [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

Islamabad, Pakistan – A Pakistani court has granted three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif bail on medical grounds in a corruption case, as the ailing political leader receives treatment for a serious immune disorder, according to doctors and party leaders.

Sharif, 69, is being treated at a government-run hospital in the eastern city of Lahore, where medical tests suggest he has a dangerously low count of blood platelets, Talal Chaudhry, a senior leader of Sharif’s PML-N party, told Al Jazeera.

On Friday, a court granted Sharif bail in a corruption investigation related to a sugar mill owned by his family, although he remains in custody based on a conviction in a separate corruption case.

An Islamabad court will rule on his bail application in that case on Tuesday.

“People are shocked that [given his platelet counts], that he has not suffered a major crisis,” Chaudhry told Al Jazeera on Friday.

“It could be a brain hemorrhage or internal bleeding. His condition could not be more serious than it has been for the last three days.”

Members of a government-constituted team that is treating Sharif testified before the Lahore and Islamabad courts on Friday to verify the seriousness of his condition.

“If he doesn’t receive immediate treatment, his life is in danger,” said Saleem Cheema, a member of the team in testimony before the Islamabad court.

Ayaz Mahmood, the head of the team, confirmed at the Lahore court hearings that Sharif was suffering from an issue where his blood platelets were being destroyed.

Sharif was admitted to hospital earlier this week, after he complained of bleeding from his gums and other ailments. Platelets are blood cells that help the human body to form clots to stop bleeding.

The three-time former prime minister is serving a seven-year jail sentence after being convicted in a corruption case last year.

He remains under investigation in the sugar mills corruption case, while a sentence in a third case was suspended in September. He denies all charges.

On Thursday, after repeated accusations from PML-N leaders of government negligence in treating Sharif, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered authorities to give the former PM “the best possible healthcare“.

“Political differences notwithstanding, my sincere prayers are with Nawaz Sharif for his health,” said Khan. “I have directed all concerned to ensure provision of the best possible health care and medical treatment to him.”

‘Fundamental rights denied’

Sharif has suffered a number of health issues in recent years. In June 2016, while still prime minister, he travelled to London for open-heart surgery to attend to a perforation in that organ.

Since being jailed in July last year, Sharif has been held at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail and by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

NAB continues to investigate a third corruption charge against Sharif related to the family-owned sugar mill.

PML-N leaders say Sharif has been denied his fundamental rights in jail, and that he has been incarcerated in cells for death row prisoners.

“The struggle began in jail, for his personal doctor to be allowed to attend to him,” said Chaudhry, the PML-N leader.

Sharif’s daughter and political heir apparent Maryam Nawaz Sharif – convicted alongside her father last year but released thereafter after her sentence was suspended – was re-arrested in August by NAB as they investigated a separate corruption case.

Maryam Nawaz was also admitted to hospital earlier this week to receive treatment. She was discharged and returned to jail early on Friday. 

The Lahore High Court heard a bail application by Maryam on Friday, deferring proceedings until next week.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

Source: Al Jazeera