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

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By Reuters
Pakistan to let ex-PM Sharif go abroad for medical treatment - foreign minister
Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sits on a plane after landing at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore, Pakistan, July 13, 2018. REUTERS/ Drazen Jorgic   -   Copyright  DRAZEN GORGIC(Reuters)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan will allow Nawaz Sharif to leave the country for medical treatment in the United Kingdom, its foreign minister said on Thursday, though he warned the former prime minister against seeking a second period of exile to escape corruption charges.

“Doctors are recommending that he perhaps needs to go abroad for further examination,” foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Reuters in an interview.

“If that is what the medical treatment requires, the government has been positive. The prime minister has said everything possible should be done to show his life is protected.”

Three-time PM Sharif, 69, was released on bail last month from a seven-year sentence for corruption after repeated medical issues.

Sharif, who has dominated Pakistani politics for three decades, denies the corruption charges, claiming they are politically motivated.

He previously lived in exile in Saudi Arabia for seven years after being toppled by the Pakistan military in 2000, though Qureshi urged Sharif to return to complete his sentence.

“If their hands are clean, why should they be running away?” he said of the possibility Sharif may seek a second period of exile.

“I hope he recovers. When he recovers, why should he be sticking around in London? There’s no logic, there’s no reason for that.”

Sharif’s party, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), declined to comment on Qureshi’s remarks.

But two senior party figures who declined to be named said it was now likely that Sharif would travel abroad for treatment, adding that he would not seek exile for a second time.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal in Lahore, additional reporting by Mubasher Bukhari; Editing by Hugh Lawson)