Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is suffering from high blood pressure but has been refused permission to see his personal doctor, his party said Monday.
Sharif was convicted in absentia on corruption charges and arrested upon his return to Pakistan earlier his month, ahead of elections on Wednesday.
Members of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party have said the powerful military is trying to influence the vote against his party.
The former premier returned to face a 10-year prison sentence in what is widely believed to be a bid to rally his embattled party ahead of a close contest with its main rival – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan.
‘Caretaker prime minister Nasir-ul-Mulk and chief minister of Punjab province Hasan Askari were approached with a request to provide access to Sharif’s personal physician but all requests went down the drain,’ PML-N spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb said.
‘Nawaz Sharif, who is also a heart patient, has been quite unwell since Saturday after his blood pressure went up.’
Officials at the Adiala prison in Rawalpindi, where Sharif is being held, could not be reached for comment.
Aurangzeb said the former premier needed a special diet and air conditioning due to a heart condition, but was being denied both, adding his cell has ‘serious hygiene issues’.
The interim government has assembled a team of doctors who are set to offer Sharif a check-up.
In an audio message from prison, Sharif urged Pakistanis to vote for his party.
‘On July 25, after offering morning prayers, come out of your homes with full zeal and... give your vote’ to the PML-N, he said in the clip, released by his party.
Sharif was ousted last year by the Supreme Court for alleged corruption. He became the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history – roughly half of it under military rule – to be removed before completing a full term.
Since his dismissal, he has engaged in an open confrontation with Pakistan’s security establishment, accusing the military of curbing democratic development and fostering links with militants.
The military remains the most powerful institution in the country, and has faced allegations in recent months that it is pressuring the media and politicians in a bid to manipulate the polls against the PML-N.
It denies the accusations and says it has ‘no direct role’ in the elections.