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Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif fighting for life: doctor

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Islamabad (AFP)

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif is "critically unwell", his doctor said Tuesday, days after the three-time leader now serving a prison sentence for corruption suffered a minor heart attack.

Sharif is currently in hospital in the eastern city of Lahore, where he is "critically unwell" and is "fighting the battle for his health & life," his personal physician, Adnan Khan, tweeted Tuesday.

As his condition worsened, the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday effectively extended his bail for two months to allow him access to medical care.

Sharif remains on a "stop list", meaning he cannot leave the country for the time being.

Members of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party meanwhile bristled at the former premier's treatment by Prime Minister Imran Khan's government, who had boasted of depriving his rival of basic amenities in prison.

"Sharif's condition deteriorated because of Imran Khan's vengeance against the former Prime Minister. Let it be known to everyone that, God forbid, if something happens to Sharif, Khan will be responsible for the consequences," senior leader PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal told reporters.

In addition to the minor heart attack, Sharif has a low platelet count, both of which are being further complicated by "deteriorating kidney functions", Adnan Khan said.

He said poor blood sugar and blood pressure control was taking its toll, adding that "establishing a definitive diagnosis and subsequent management poses considerable risk to #NawazSharif’s fragile and unstable health".

The 69-year-old former premier, known as the "Lion of Punjab", was first taken to hospital last week when his blood platelet count dropped to dangerous levels.

Sharif, Pakistan's longest-serving prime minister, is a political survivor who has repeatedly roared back to the country's top office, underscoring the unpredictable nature of Pakistani politics.

A hugely wealthy steel tycoon from Punjab, Pakistan's wealthiest province, he was considered strong on the economy and infrastructure, but inherited sagging finances and a stifling energy crisis when he was elected for the third time in 2013.

Seen as a pragmatist in the West, he raised eyebrows by calling for peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, blamed for killing thousands of Pakistanis since 2002.

He earned a reputation for combativeness during his two previous terms as prime minister, from 1990 to 1993 -- when he was sacked, also on corruption charges -- and from 1997 to 1999, when he was deposed by the powerful military.

He blamed the security establishment for again targeting him in 2017, when the Supreme Court disqualified him from politics for life over graft allegations, which he denies.

He later received a seven-year jail sentence.

His brother Shehbaz Sharif, formerly the chief minister of Punjab, took over the leadership of the family's PML-N party -- but failed to make a dent against World Cup-winning cricketer-turned-politician Khan in last year's general election.

Khan has since launched a high-profile and controversial anti-corruption drive that has largely targeted several PML-N leaders.

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