Pakistani PM Sharif Undergoes Successful Heart Surgery, Daughter Says

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faces a key choice in the coming weeks about who should run Pakistan's powerful military, one that will have a major influence on the country's often strained relationships with the United States and nuclear rival India.

By Asad Hashim

ISLAMABAD, May 31 – Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif underwent successful open heart surgery in a London hospital on Tuesday, his second cardiac procedure in five years, his daughter said.

Sharif’s surgery comes as his government prepares to present its annual budget on Friday. It also remains under pressure over allegations of corruption linked to the so-called Panama Papers.

“Surgery successful,” his daughter, Maryam, said on her Twitter account about four and a half hours after she said the operation had begun.

Earlier, she said her father “was in high spirits” as he was taken in for an operation for a “perforation of the heart”, a complication from a 2011 procedure.

Sharif, 66, was prime minister for two terms in the 1990s before being overthrown in a 1999 military coup.

After years in exile, he returned to Pakistan in 2007 and led his party to a victory in a 2013 election.

He has travelled to London for medical treatment several times over the past year and was accompanied on this trip by his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, who is chief minister of Punjab province, and several other family members.

On Monday, Sharif telephoned his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, thanking him for his wishes for a quick recovery, the Pakistani Foreign Office said in a statement.

Sharif made a bid to improve ties with old rival India a main policy in his 2013 election campaign, though progress has been slow.

Sharif has been overseeing state affairs in the days leading up to the surgery, and on Monday addressed an economic meeting, signing off on budget proposals that include a target of 5.7 percent growth in the year beginning in July.

Pakistan missed its gross domestic product growth target of 5.5 percent for the year ending in June, hitting only 4.7 percent.

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