Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Ousted Pakistani PM Sharif sentenced to 10 years in prison

Capt Safdar in Mansehra today Capt Safdar in Mansehra today
Charlie Simmons | 07 July, 2018, 01:56

Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a corruption court in Islamabad today, lawyers said, dealing a serious blow to his party's troubled campaign ahead of July 25 elections.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed the case, along with two others, on the Supreme Court's directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict a year ago which disqualified Sharif, the three-time prime minister.

The timing of this sentencing is significant, coming just three weeks before the country's general elections on 25 July. According to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court, Sharif family failed to show proper money trail behind purchase of such high-valued apartments.

If Sharif returns he will be arrested on arrival under the law, though he could later be freed by a separate court pending appeal, Abbasi added.

The court also imposed a fine of £8 million on Mr. Sharif and £2 million on Ms. Maryam.

Sharif, 68, is now in London attending to his wife Kulsoom Nawaz who was diagnosed with throat cancer past year.

Small protests quickly broke out after the verdict at the court in Islamabad, which was surrounded by heavy security, and in some other Pakistani cities including Multan in Punjab, the Sharif dynasty's provincial stronghold.

The former opposition leader of the National Assembly said such a judgement at this time would raise different concerns, which may go in Nawaz Sharif's favour.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) rejected the verdict, and Sharif's younger brother, Shahbaz, pledged to challenge the order.

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The PML-N has termed the trial political victimisation.

But he has kept control of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party that he founded.

He said the decision was also an effort to influence the upcoming elections.

Sharif has argued that the military, in cahoots with top judges, has used cases against him and party members to tip the scales in favour of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan ahead of the election.

He also claimed, "There is no doubt that Maryam Nawaz forged signature in the Panama Papers case".

Khan is running on a socially conservative, anti-corruption platform.

Rasheed even said, "They expect those people to come out to whom they didn't even provide basic facilities".

The Sharifs had filed an application on Thursday requesting the court to delay the verdict in the Avenfield reference and grant a seven-day exemption in the wake of Nawaz's wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's critical health. So, a powerful civilian leader Nawaz Sharif was a thorn for the army.

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