A Pakistani court has bailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif indefinitely on medical grounds, court officials said, days after he was taken to hospital from prison where he is serving seven years for corruption.
The Lahore High Court granted Sharif – who was prime minister three times before he was ousted for corruption in 2017 – bail at Rs10mn ($63,900) on medical grounds “for an indefinite period”, a court official told AFP.
“We applied for bail on the grounds that his health conditions were deteriorating and that he needs better treatment,” his lawyer, Azam Nazir Tarar, told Reuters after the ruling in Lahore. “The court accepted our request and granted bail.”
A second court official said the ruling had come after doctors confirmed that Sharif was suffering from an autoimmune blood disorder requiring immediate medical attention.
It was not immediately clear where Sharif would receive treatment or how severe his condition is.
The 69-year-old was taken to hospital on Tuesday when his blood platelet count dropped to dangerous levels, local media reported.
The Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from politics for life over graft in 2017, and he later received a seven-year jail sentence.
He denies all the corruption charges against him and claims that he is being targeted by the country’s powerful security establishment.
Sharif’s party, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), has accused authorities of victimising Sharif and his family.
The government denies that the legal action against Sharif and other members of his family, including daughter Maryam Nawaz, who is also in detention for suspected graft, is politically motivated.
On Thursday Prime Minister Imran Khan said that “political differences aside”, his sincere prayers are with Sharif, and that he had directed that the former prime minister should receive the best healthcare.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar issued a video message in which he said the prime minister had directed him and the provincial government to allow Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz’s meeting with her father and ensure best treatment for him.
He added that the government would not create any problem in Sharif’s treatment “here or abroad”.
It was not clear if Sharif would be moved to another hospital or allowed to go abroad for treatment, as his lawyer had requested.
The PML-N has said that any possibility of going abroad for treatment, if allowed by the courts, would be Sharif’s own decision.
The party leadership added that the party would not force Sharif in this regard.
Sources said yesterday that a six-member medical board, headed by Services Hospital principal Ayaz Mahmood, has diagnosed the reason for Sharif’s declining health.
“It is acute immune thrombocytopenic purpura [ITP], a bleeding disorder, in which the immune system destroys platelets,” a board member said, adding that treatment was given to Sharif in the light of his diagnosis.
“We are hopeful that his condition will improve in a few days,” he added.
However, Sharif’s white blood platelet count again dropped late on Thursday night, from 20,000 to 6,000.
“The medical reports of the PML-N supremo have been sent to doctors abroad for their opinion,” a party leader said.