Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption. The sentenced was set by Justice Muhammad Bashir of the accountability court in Islamabad. The anti-corruption court also sentenced Nawaz to pay $10.6 million in restitution. Nawaz was in London when the sentence was pronounced, the New York Times revealed.
Nawaz’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, was sentenced by the court to seven years imprisonment as well. She is to pay back about $3.2 million. Her husband, Muhammad Safdar, was also convicted in the corruption case and sentenced to one year in prison. The family will be losing their four luxury apartments at Avenfield House, close to Hyde Park in London. The Pakistani news media disclosed that Nawaz and daughter Maryam listened to the court verdicts from their London apartments.
Nawaz’s level of corruption has been likened to that of Najib Razak, the former Malaysian Prime Minister who had over $273 million worth of cash and goods seized in a corruption case.
Nawaz Says He is Not Afraid of Returning to Pakistan to Be Imprisoned
Nawaz served as Prime Minister of Pakistan for three non-consecutive terms without completing any particular term in office, once removed by a military coup and removed again by a Supreme Court ruling. Late last year, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered him out of office and just this year, the court ruled him incompetent for life to hold any public office in the country. Nawaz is perceived in Pakistan as a vocal authority against the military, but also as a typical example of corruption and rule by the elite in his country.
The Supreme Court conviction stemmed from the release of the Panama Papers which revealed previously undisclosed assets held by Nawaz including expensive property in London. The court convicted Nawaz based on his inability to state how he funds his family’s lavish lifestyles.
Following the court’s verdict imposed in absentia, it is not clear whether Nawaz and daughter Maryam would return back to Pakistan to serve the prison terms. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) says Nawaz’s wife, Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif, is down with cancer and on a ventilator. Nawaz, however, told reporters in London that he would not mind getting incarcerated in Pakistan if the move would give freedom to Pakistanis at the hands of court judges and military generals.
Maryam Sharif and Key Party Members Barred From Contesting in Coming Election
Maryam Sharif who had been planning to contest the July 25 elections will not be able to do this anymore as per the court ruling. Many had seen Maryam as an emerging national force in the country’s politics and her father’s political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N.) She had also said she is not afraid of being jailed, but it remains unclear whether she would be visiting Pakistan with her father before the elections.
The development has affected the PML-N party negatively since several key members have been barred from contesting and a few had defected to other parties.
Several party members blame the military for manipulating the courts against PML-N.
“The crackdown has been very ham-fisted and heavy-handed,” said Ahmed Rasheed, a foreign policy analyst and author. “Yes, the PML-N is corrupt, but they don’t deserve to be harassed in elections like this.”