Lahore High Court releases Nawaz Sharif on bail; ex-Pakistan prime minister allowed to leave country for treatment

Lahore: A top Pakistani court on Friday ordered convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s release on bail so he can seek medical treatment at home or abroad, his family and a defence lawyer said.

The decision was announced by the Lahore High Court after hearing a petition from Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, who heads the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League party.

But it doesn’t mean that the former premier will automatically be freed as he faces another appeal hearing for bail next week.

 Lahore High Court releases Nawaz Sharif on bail; ex-Pakistan prime minister allowed to leave country for treatment

File photo of former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif with his daughter. Reuters

Nawaz Sharif was rushed from prison to the government hospital in Lahore on Monday after his health condition was said to have deteriorated. He has remained there under the supervision of prison authorities.

The 69-year-old Sharif, who served three times as prime minister, has had a history of health problems, including heart disease.

His lawyer Ashtar Ausaf said court authorities cannot release Sharif immediately until they hear a separate appeal set for next Tuesday. That hearing pertains to the second corruption conviction against Sharif, he added.

“We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judiciary which has granted bail to Nawaz Sharif who is facing a complicated disease,” Sharif’s brother told reporters outside the court in Lahore. “I request the nation to pray for speedy recovery of its leader,” Sharif.

Maryam Aurangzeb, a spokeswoman for Sharif, said she hopes he will be granted bail in the second case as well so that he can receive medical treatment at a hospital of his choice. So far, it was unclear whether Sharif would wish to travel for treatment outside Pakistan.

When Sharif was taken to hospital on Monday, his doctors initially believed he had contracted dengue fever, which is rampant across Pakistan. But later medical tests concluded that his immune system malfunctioned, which was the reason for a concerningly low platelet count.

Panicked over his deteriorating health, Sharif’s family petitioned the court in Lahore, requesting his release.

During his political carrier, Sharif faced many upheavals but could never overcome the death of his wife at a London hospital in 2018.

While he was in London visiting his wife Kulsoom Nawaz in hospital, a Pakistan court convicted and sentenced him and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on corruption charges. They were arrested on their return home and taken to prison to serve their sentences.

Sharif’s 12-year conviction in one case was suspended but he was serving a seven-year jail term when the country’s anti-graft body in the past weeks began questioning him in another case, related to his family’s sugar mills.

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