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Ailing ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif left by air ambulance Tuesday for London, where he is due to receive medical treatment after battling the government for permission to travel, his doctor and close aides said.

Sharif, 69, is suffering from an autoimmune blood disorder, has high blood pressure, and his kidney functions are deteriorating, according to aides. His doctor has said he is "fighting for his life".

He had been in prison serving a sentence for corruption, but was bailed last month to receive treatment. Since then his party and family have been fighting to get his name removed from a travel stop list to allow him to go overseas for treatment.

The government had said it would not stand in the way, but last week demanded he pay a bond of seven billion Pakistani rupees ($45 million) as a condition of his travel - which the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) immediately rejected.

After days of political deadlock the condition was finally lifted and Sharif was flown to London via Doha on a Qatar Airways air ambulance.

Party workers showered rose petals on his car as it left his house in Jati Umra on the outskirts of Lahore.

Sharif's aides have said the unexplained cause and uncertain diagnosis of his illness require advanced investigations and specialised care.-AFP

"Nawaz Sharif will go to Boston after going through a detailed checkup in London. During his travel, he will stay in Doha for two hours," Sharif's close aide Pervaiz Rashid told Reuters.

Until recently, Sharif has consistently said he had no wish to leave the country, preferring to stay and fight for his political survival.-AFP/Reuters

BR staff reporter adds: Nawaz's brother Shahbaz Sharif and personal physician Dr Adnan and paramedics were also on board.

The air ambulance was equipped with oxygen cylinders, ventilators, an intensive care unit, an operation theatre and other medical facilities.

Prior to departure, doctors checked Nawaz Sharif's blood sugar level, blood pressure and performed a CBC test. Earlier, Nawaz Sharif arrived at the airport's Haj Terminal from Jati Umra.

PML-N leaders including captain Safdar (retd), Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Pervez Rashid were among those present at the airport to see off the PML-N supremo.

"Nawaz Sharif will go to Boston after going through a detailed checkup in London. During his travel, he will stay in Doha for two hours," PML-N leader Pervaiz Rashid said.

He refuted speculations that any deal was struck between the party and the government for the release of former premier Nawaz Sharif and removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) for travelling abroad. Rashid stated that Sharif had returned to Pakistan on his own to face cases against him.

"He (Nawaz) will return back to the country after rehabilitation and will continue his struggle for the rule of the general public," he said, adding: "The court allowed Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad. The prime minister has also refuted that the deal [has been made]."

About PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Rashid said he must also receive treatment that a former president deserves. "We cannot comprehend why he was arrested?"

Khurram Dastgir on this occasion stated that Sharif's disease could not be identified and his health was even bad today.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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