Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif leaves the Supreme Court after the land case hearing in Islamabad on December 4, 2018. Photo: AFP/Farooq Naeem
Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif leaves the Supreme Court after a land case hearing in Islamabad on December 4, 2018. Photo: AFP/Farooq Naeem

While the attention of the media and common masses remains focused on the recent conflict between Pakistan and India, sitting in a cell of Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is facing severe health problems. He has been advised by the medical board of Jinnah Hospital that he needs angiography, but Sharif has refused to accept any offer of being moved to the hospital by the government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

Sharif has, in fact, said that he would prefer an honorable death rather than allowing the government to exploit his medical condition for petty gains. He has told his family that he will not accept the PTI government’s below-the-belt attempts to push him around in the guise of medical treatment and move him from one irrelevant hospital to another.

Sharif’s personal physician, Dr Adnan Khan, told this correspondent, “Nawaz Sharif has significant coronary artery disease, which has worsened over the last few weeks. Underlying chronic kidney disease (Stage 3), uncontrolled hypertension and suboptimal diabetes control have further complicated the issue.” According to the doctor, “Mr Sharif requires hospitalization for aggressive management [of his condition]. He has to undergo cardiac catheterization and possibly coronary intervention. A high end fully equipped and staffed cath lab, a complete nephrology setup and cardiac surgery backup are required to further proceed with treatment.”

Sharif has been suffering from heart problems and several other diseases for a long time, and every time he has been taken to the hospital from the jail for treatment he has been humiliated and mocked by the leaders of PTI and its blind followers. The PTI government has deliberately deprived Sharif of the best possible medical care, which he deserves as a thrice-elected prime minister of Pakistan.

Sharif now is refusing to be humiliated in this way any further, but by remaining in jail instead of going to hospital again he is only increasing the chances of serious health damage. Yet if anything happens to Sharif, the weak PTI government will not be able to bear the political fallout. Perhaps that is the reason Prime Minister Imran Khan issued special instructions to his cabinet that Sharif should be provided the best health care and allowed to choose his own hospital and doctors. However, Sharif does not trust anyone in the ranks of PTI and is thus staying at the jail, with a high risk of a heart attack at any moment.

If anything happens to Sharif, the weak PTI government will not be able to bear the political fallout. Perhaps that is the reason Prime Minister Imran Khan issued special instructions to his cabinet that Sharif should be provided the best health care and allowed to choose his own hospital and doctors

The chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto has also shown concern over the inhuman behavior inflicted on Sharif. In a tweet, he said he was “appalled to hear of the callous and inhumane treatment of imprisoned former PM Nawaz Sharif by the government. His illness should be treated seriously, [and he should] be provided with proper medical care and treated with respect.”

This is not the first time Sharif and his family have been humiliated over illness. During his last election campaign in which he fought a fearless battle of narratives with the establishment of the country, Sharif’s wife was mocked as she was suffering from cancer. It was alleged by the PTI and a few TV anchors that Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif was only dramatizing her illness to save her husband Nawaz and daughter Maryam from the wrath of the establishment. Her illness was mocked and jokes were thrown at her, until finally, she died on September 11 last year, proving her critics and political opponents wrong. Such was the level of lack of empathy in the PTI-led government and the brainwashed supporters of this party that they did not even bother to stop criticizing Kulsoom at the time of her burial.

The immature PTI leadership installed by the invisible forces and the brainwashed supporters of the party are incapable of realizing that the more Sharif suffers in jail because of the lack of medical treatment, the more political pressure it will create, and on the other hand the mindless and below-the-belt language used to mock Sharif’s illness will only show that the PTI’s supporters lack empathy and do not understand human values.

Sharif, who is in jail on a very weak accountability-court decision and whose appeal against the judgment has been pending for a month as the invisible forces do not want him to get out of the jail, must be smiling from behind bars, as what he said three years back has proved to be true. Sharif asked the establishment to clear Pakistan’s own back yard of the extremists and banned outfits before it was too late, and he was termed a traitor at that time. Yet Pakistan now is finally following that advice and sealing the offices of banned outfits while arresting many high-profile extremist leaders.

Time will prove that Sharif was thrown behind bars for taking on the invisible forces and their rotten narratives. Both the powers that be and PTI need to understand that Sharif’s political career is by no means over, and neither is he history like former dictator Pervez Musharraf. With the level of support he enjoys in Punjab province, every inhuman treatment inflicted on him is growing the anger among his vote bank. This is the last thing a weak government and establishment will want, Sharif’s vote bank coming out on the streets at a time when the country is pitted against its arch-rival India in conflict due to Narendra Modi’s jingoism.

Sharif should be provided the best health facilities and the prime minister should go and meet with him in prison and assure him he will not be humiliated this time as he is sent to the best hospital for the treatment. Political wisdom is the need of the hour, and this will also result in ending the polity we Pakistanis are facing in the current political environment.

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