Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari set a very healthy precedent on Monday by visiting his party’s staunch opponent Mian Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat jail to inquire after him, and calling upon the government not to subject the former prime minister, who is a heart patient, to “stress” as it would amount to torturing him.

Talking to reporters outside the jail after a long meeting with the former primer minister, Bilawal said that Sharif looked very ill and he should be given treatment of his choice. “I got no inkling that he is trying to get an NRO. He is sticking to his principles,” said the PPP chairman, who came out of jail with a broad smile on his face.

Bilawal is the first top political leader who has confirmed that the PML-N supremo really looked very ill and that he was not trying to strike any deal with the government to get himself released. He said that speculations that the incarcerated leader was trying to get some kind of NRO was a conspiracy against him. Important PPP leaders Qamar Zaman Kaira, Mustafa Khokhar and Hassan Murtaza also accompanied their chairman to the prison.

The meeting took place at the office of the additional jail superintendent. Bilawal regretted that the three-time former prime minister was now in jail. He recalled that his maternal grandfather late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and a number of PPP workers had also spent time at Kot Lakhpat jail. He said that political differences apart, Islam enjoins its followers to inquire after the sick.

He also said that no one should be subjected to injustice or humiliation. The PPP chairman was of the opinion that the government should take all political parties along at a time when there was a situation of war with India. Referring to the Charter of Democracy (CoD) Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif had signed in 2006, Bilawal said that it was regrettable that not all articles of this document had been translated into reality.

He said his party wanted a new document prepared with input from all political parties to effectively deal with the prevailing political situation. He said that he would not like PM Imran Khan to face a situation that his children have to go from pillar to post to get justice. Asked if he would like to invite the PTI to join the CoD, he said that he would welcome the ideological beings in the ruling party.

However, he doubted that they would. According to some reports, the PPP leader said at his meeting with Sharif that the government would not be able to keep him behind bars for long. He hoped that the next meeting would be out of jail. Sharif said he wanted the rulers to treat him, not ridicule him. He made it clear that the jail would not be able to unnerve him.

He admitted that it was a mistake on his part not to accept the PPP’s offer to amend certain clauses of Articles 62/63 of the Constitution. The PPP leader offered Sharif treatment at a Karachi hospital where all necessary facilities for heart patients are available.