Pakistan to let ex-PM Nawaz Sharif go abroad for medical treatment

Pakistani policemen stand guard on the gate of a hospital before shifting jailed Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (unseen), in Lahore on November 6, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2019

Pakistan to let ex-PM Nawaz Sharif go abroad for medical treatment

  • Doctors in Pakistan ‘have failed to diagnose former prime minister’s ailment’

LAHORE: Pakistan’s ailing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif intends to travel abroad for medical treatment after his name has been removed from the country’s no-fly list, one of his senior party colleagues confirmed to Arab News on Friday.

Sharif was disqualified from holding public office by the country’s top court in 2018 and was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison when another court found him guilty of living beyond his stated means of income.

The former prime minister was probed in a money laundering case by the country’s anti-graft body, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), when he was taken to a hospital in Lahore.

The doctors performed various medical tests and administered different medicines, but Sharif’s ailment could not be diagnosed and his blood platelets count remained erratic and unstable.

“Nawaz Sharif will be traveling abroad for treatment as doctors in Pakistan have failed to diagnose his medical problem,” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq told Arab News. 

“They have advised him to undergo medical tests that are not possible in Pakistan.”

The PML-N formally requested that the Interior Ministry remove Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL), the party confirmed on Friday.

“(The former prime minister’s brother) Shehbaz Sharif submitted an application in the Interior Ministry to strike off the ex-PM’s name from the ECL,” Haq said. “He will go abroad once that is done.”

Earlier in the day, PML-N vice president and Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, also demanded that her father be allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment.

“All treatment options in the country have been exhausted,” she told a group of journalists in Lahore.

“Doctors have used steroids, platelet-enhancing medicines and drips. However, nothing is working. They are still unable to diagnose the cause of his decreasing platelets, and that is a cause of concern.”

Dr. Mahmood Ayaz, who was leading the team of doctors that was treating Sharif at Lahore’s Services Hospital, suggested more medical tests be carried out, including a genetic examination which cannot be done in Pakistan.

“Certain medical tests — including a genetic test — is necessary to diagnose his disease. Genetic test facility is not available in the country and we have conveyed this to all concerned, including his family,” he told the media on the day Sharif was discharged from the hospital.

Maryam Nawaz said all necessary measures must be taken to save her father’s life.

“He must go abroad, if that is what it takes,” she told reporters.

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Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

Updated 12 November 2019

Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

  • Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the election
  • The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, a NCSC spokesman said

LONDON: Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,
“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.
The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.
Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.
“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.
The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defense systems when the digital assault began on Monday.
“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyberattack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”
A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.
The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.
A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.
The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.