Sharif departed on a special plane from the city of Lahore after a court granted him permission to leave for four weeks abroad for medical treatment. His conviction was earlier suspended for 8 weeks on medical grounds.

Pakistan’s ailing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted of corruption, left the country on Tuesday to travel to London for medical treatment.

Sharif departed on a special plane from the city of Lahore, after a court granted him permission to leave for four weeks abroad for medical treatment. His conviction was earlier suspended for eight weeks on medical grounds.

Local television stations broadcast footage of Sharif boarding the plane which was then shown in the air after takeoff.

The 69-year-old Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges in 2019. After his health deteriorated last month, he was rushed from his cell to a hospital in Lahore. While in hospital, he suffered a minor heart attack.

Three times prime minister, Sharif was removed from office by the country’s Supreme Court in 2017 over corruption allegations. He denies the charge, saying he was politically victimized.

Elections later that year brought to power Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.

Supporters pray outside a hospital where Sharif was being treated in October

How ill is Nawaz Sharif?

Nawaz Sharif’s health and the travel ban have dominated news in Pakistan for nearly a month.

Last month his blood platelet count dropped to a critical 16,000, compared to around a 150,000 for a healthy person, a doctor told BBC Urdu’s Umar Nangiana in Lahore.

Sharif, 69, is also on drugs for a cardiac problem, and suffers from diabetes and kidney issues.

Both official and private medical boards have recommended he is treated abroad, as Pakistan does not have adequate facilities.

Sharif will travel via Doha in a “high-end air ambulance” with a fully-staffed intensive care unit and operating theatre, his personal doctor said.

Why is he serving a jail sentence?

Sharif was prime minister from 1990 to 1993; 1997 to 1999; and 2013 to 2017. He is also one of the country’s richest industrialists.

In 2018 – following the Panama Papers leak – he was found guilty of corruption, relating to his family’s ownership of upmarket London apartments.

  • Profile: Nawaz Sharif
  • Sharif sent back to jail for corruption
  • The Panama Papers

He was given a 10-year prison sentence, but was released two months later when the court suspended the sentences, pending a final judgement.

But in December 2018 he was jailed for corruption again, this time for seven years, in relation to his family’s ownership of steel mills in Saudi Arabia.

He denies wrongdoing and accuses the military of conspiring to end his political career.

Sharif with his daughter Maryam Nawaz, who was also jailed for corruption in 2018, but who also had her sentence suspended

When will he come back?

Sharif has agreed to return within four weeks, or when when doctors say he is fit to return.

His brother Shahbaz – who is travelling with Sharif – signed a court document that said: “If at any stage, the federal government has credible information that Nawaz Sharif is living abroad despite his fitness to travel, a representative from Pakistan’s High Commission would have a right to meet with his physician(s) to verify or confirm about his health.”

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