Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Punished for trying to free people from slavery: Nawaz Sharif

Punished for trying to free people from slavery: Nawaz Sharif

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by an anti-corruption court in Islamabad.

But in the ruling that ousted Mr. Sharif from office a year ago, the Supreme Court concluded that he and his family members could not adequately explain how they were able to afford the expensive London apartments and that they failed to provide a money trail.

Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), gestures while addressing his supporters during a campaign meeting ahead of general elections in Karachi, Pakistan, July 4, 2018. According to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court, Sharif family failed to show proper money trail behind purchase of such high-valued apartments.

Talking to reporters in London later in the evening Nawaz said he would return to Pakistan, but avoided giving a specific date.

On Friday, the accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir announced the verdict, handing Nawaz Sharif a 10-year prison term and an £8 million fine in the Avenfield properties reference.

The court ruled that all three family members had been involved in the ownership of four apartments in an upscale London district known as the Avenfield Flats.

They both denied wrongdoing and are expected to appeal.

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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.

However, political analyst Qamar Cheema said that those thinking of capitalizing on the verdict should not underestimate thepopularity of the former ruling party among the masses.

Sharif's younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, who has taken over the PML-N leadership, rejected the court's decision. The PML-N sweeps back to power in an election the gives its allies a solid National Assembly majority.

The verdict marked a further fall for the PML-N supremo, who has been Pakistan's prime minister three times but never completed a term. "The timing of the judgment is an attempt to influence the upcoming elections", he told a press conference in Lahore.

Sharif has a history of conflict with the military even though his political career was initially nurtured by military dictator Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s. So, a powerful civilian leader Nawaz Sharif was a thorn for the army.

November 2, 2016 - Supreme Court agrees to set up a judicial commission to probe corruption allegations against Sharif, stemming from Panama Papers leaks.

He never appeared before the accountability court despite several notices.

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