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Saturday July 13, 2024

Medical marvels

By Editoial Board
May 28, 2023

The past few years have seen a more intrusive insight into the health of politicians – in fact, into everything personal related to politicians. The most recent has been the platelets debate regarding former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who had submitted a medical report to the PTI government to be allowed to go to the UK for health reasons. The PTI has since made much good use of Nawaz Sharif’s health woes (or lack of, per the PTI). In a more serious case, the late Kulsoom Nawaz’s health became the subject of musings and rumours – to the extent that there were social media trolls online whose sole job seemed to be to mock the PML-N’s Sharifs regarding Kulsoom Nawaz’s health – which was alleged to have been faked. We saw how that turned out, Mrs Sharif having passed away while both the husband and daughter were incarcerated.

Imran Khan too has not been without controversy as far as his health concerns go, in particular not-so-veiled references to substance abuse over the years. But the press conference on Friday by Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel can only be called disturbing in its assertion. It would have been comical had it not been for the fact that we have reached a place in history where apparently nothing is beyond observation, analyses and breaking news. According to Patel, Imran Khan’s health report, including a urine sample taken while he was in NAB custody, indicates that the former prime minister used alcohol and drugs. Not stopping at that, the health minister also said that Imran Khan’s mental health was also under question. Patel’s presser raises two issues: one, the lack of right to privacy – especially of one’s medical records – observed by a sitting government is alarming and there must be some accounting for how this was allowed to happen. And, two, that medical professionals when shown the report by Geo News’ show Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Ke Saath’s anchor Shahzeb Khanzada declared Patel’s claims “laughable and unfounded".

There are a number of cases against Imran Khan which certainly need investigation. And, as analysts have pointed out, the Al Qadir Trust case in particular could lead him into very deep legal issues over honesty, ethics and the use of money. There are of course also other cases and the May 9 events that Imran will need to explain. Which is why one wonders what would prompt the government to trivialize real serious cases and tray a gotcha moment regarding some abstract notions of alcohol or substance abuse or mental health issues. Let politics be above at least this. Otherwise, what difference from the PTI is the coalition government pretending to practise?