PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has tested positive for coronavirus, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed on Thursday.
Shehbaz, 69, a cancer survivor, is isolating at home, Aurangzeb said, adding that the PML-N leader was following his doctors’ advice on how to fight the infection.
Speaking to Geo Pakistan, PML-N representative Ata Tarar revealed that Shehbaz had himself tested for COVID-19 after showing mild symptoms of the infection. He said that the result of the test came back positive on June 10, at 4pm.
“He was summoned on June 9 by NAB. We kept saying he is a cancer survivor, and even if you do want to conduct the investigation then do so via video link. However, this is blind political vendetta,” he said.
In response to a question about the former Punjab chief minister traveling with hundreds of PML-N workers and not paying heed to social distancing protocols, Tarar said that he had appealed to the party’s supporters to remain indoors and not gather at public places.
“It wasn’t an official call from the party [for them to come out],” he said. “We wanted to avoid this situation. I want to say on record that if God forbid, anything were to happen to him, NAB and Imran Niazi will be held responsible.”
Tarar said that the party had submitted in writing that the PML-N president was a cancer survivor hence his life was at risk from the infection.
Reiterating that there was no need for Shehbaz to appear in person for the investigations, Tarar said that the party had requested that the PML-N leader be allowed to answer questions via video link to ensure he remained safe from the virus.
Shehbaz had appeared on June 9 at NAB Lahore after he was summoned by the anti-graft body to answer questions related to the assets beyond means and money laundering case.
The opposition leader’s appearance at the NAB Lahore office lasted for a little over an hour. A large number of PML-N supporters had gathered outside the office to chant slogans in support of the party leader.
Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb and other lawmakers test positive for COVID-19
A day earlier, PML-N Secretary-General Ahsan Iqbal tested positive for coronavirus.
“I request my friends and well-wishers to pray for my quick recovery,” Iqbal had written on Twitter.
“May God keep everyone safe from this pandemic,” he added.
Shehbaz had prayed for the former interior minister’s health, saying he was “sad to hear about the COVID-19 infection of PMLN’s General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal”.
“He is not only a senior politician of the country but also an embodiment of nobility, competence, and unwavering ideological commitment,” the former chief minister of Punjab wrote on Twitter.
“I pray to Allah for his speedy & complete recovery!”
Earlier, Aurangzeb has tested positive for the coronavirus along with her mother.
She joined a long list of lawmakers who have tested positive for the virus, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PTI MPA from Sindh Khurrum Sher Zaman.
On Monday, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and PTIA MNA Jai Prakash contracted the infection.
On Sunday, PPP MPA Sharjeel Memon announced he had tested positive for coronavirus and had gone into self-isolation.
Memon is the Sindh government’s focal person for coronavirus in Hyderabad and also attended the provincial assembly session a few days ago.
Last week, PML-N Punjab Assembly lawmaker Mian Naveed Ali from Pakpattan had tested positive for coronavirus.
Earlier, Minister of State for Narcotics Shehryar Afridi also tested positive for the virus joining a long list of lawmakers to contract the coronavirus in Pakistan. PTI’s chief whip in the National Assembly Aamir Dogar also tested positive for coronavirus.
Previously, many politicians including ANP’s Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Sindh education minister Saeed Ghani, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, and Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari had tested positive for coronavirus, after which they went into self-isolation and recovered.
PTI Punjab Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Shaheen Raza was the first lawmaker in the country to succumb to the virus.
PTI MPA Mian Jamsheduddin Kakakhel from Nowshera and PML-N MPA Shaukat Manzoor Cheema from Gujranwala also passed away earlier this month after being on the ventilator for a few days.