ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who underwent open heart surgery at a hospital in London last month, will return home on Saturday, two government officials and a member of his ruling party said Friday.
Anjum Chaudhry, a member of the British branch of the ruling PML-N party — which, like other Pakistani parties, has branches abroad — said Sharif will be flying back to the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore and is expected to land sometime on Saturday night.
Earlier, two government officials said a special plane of the national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, is being prepared to bring Sharif and about two dozen of his staff members back to the country.
Daniyal Gilani, a spokesman for PIA, said because of Sharif's "health issues," his office and staff had been partly moved to London while he was undergoing medical treatment there.
Sharif traveled to London in April and underwent surgery there in May. Details of what the open heart surgery involved or Sharif's original ailment were never disclosed.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's opposition leader Imran Khan criticized Sharif for using a special plane to return home. In a televised speech, Khan told a rally in the city of Pasrur in Punjab province on Friday that he will file a request asking that a court order Sharif to pay the expenses incurred for sending the plane to bring him back.
The Pakistani prime minister, who is among the country's richest people, has been under pressure from the opposition to step down because his family members were named as holders of offshore wealth in leaked financial documents from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. However, Sharif has defended his financial record, saying he is ready to face investigation.
His father built up the family business before Sharif entered politics. He established a steel mill abroad while he was exiled to Saudi Arabia by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. Sharif has said the Jeddah steel mill was sold in 2005 for $17 million and the proceeds were used to buy apartments in London.
Associated Press Writer Adela Suliman in London contributed to this story.