Pakistan court frees ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and daughter
12:00 AM, September 20, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:24 AM, September 20, 2018

Ousted Pak PM Nawaz released

Court suspends sentences against Sharifs, grants bail in London property graft case

Ousted Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar, were released from Adiala jail yesterday after a court suspended their respective prison sentences for corruption pending an appeal hearing.

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif along with senior party leaders reached Adiala jail in the evening to receive Nawaz after the IHC issued their release orders.

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A large number of PML-N supporters also gathered outside the prison to receive their supreme leader. Moreover, the workers showered rose petals on the convoy of Nawaz Sharif as it left the prison.

The Sharifs will be taken to Nur Khan Airbase, Chaklala, from where they will be flown to Lahore in a private aircraft.

Earlier in the day, the Islamabad High Court division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the appeals by the Sharifs and Capt Safdar against the verdict announced by an anti-corruption court on July 6.

The accountability court sentenced Sharif and Maryam in absentia to 10 and seven years respectively over properties they allegedly owned in Britain, following revelations in the Panama Papers.

The judges accepted the convicts' petitions against the Avenfield verdict, ruling that the sentences would remain suspended until the final judgment on their appeals.

"Today, the Islamabad High Court has suspended the verdict against Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and his son-in-law Captain Safdar and ordered to release them on bail until a final decision," lawyer Khawaja Haris told AFP.

They will be released after the payment of sureties of 500,000 rupees ($4,024), he said.

It was not clear when the appeal will be heard. The anti-graft watchdog has the right to go to the Supreme Court to contest the bail ruling.

Dozens of jubilant supporters chanted "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!" outside the court after the decision was announced.

Sharif and his daughter were arrested on their return to the country in June to campaign in elections.

Sharif claims he is being targeted by the country's powerful security establishment. His Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party lost the election on July 25 to the rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by former cricket hero Imran Khan.

"Today the court has suspended the decision that was based on revenge," former minister Ahsan Iqbal told reporters.

"This trial is important because even a blind person in Pakistan will see that there was neither law nor constitution in the decision and it was just pre-poll rigging to pave the way for Imran Khan to win elections," he said.

Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz's younger brother who headed the PML-N after his sibling's imprisonment, tweeted a verse from the Quran in Arabic that said: "Truth has come and falsehood has departed."

Sharif's wife died in a London hospital earlier this month and he along with his daughter and son-in-law were granted parole to attend her funeral.

"The verdict is a political victory for Nawaz Sharif and he will use it to further assert his narrative that his imprisonment was a political move," political analyst Hassan Askari told AFP.

He said Nawaz's elder brother Shahbaz lacks the charisma and political support enjoyed by his elder brother.

"The release of Nawaz means he will further mobilise his party and other opposition parties against the government," Askari added.

Sharif, now 68, has been prime minister three times but power has been a rough ride.

He was expelled from office in 1993 on suspicion of corruption. He won an election in 1997, only to be ousted and exiled after a military coup in 1999.

Nawaz returned to Pakistan in 2007 and took power once more in 2013, only to be ousted by the Supreme Court in July last year.


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