Pakistan court orders release of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif

The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday suspended the 10-year jail sentence for Nawaz Sharif and the 7-year sentence for his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

On July 6, an accountability court in Islamabad found ex-Prime Minister Sharif and his family guilty of corruption in the Panama Papers case, and sentenced Sharif to 10 years in prison.

The Avenfield case, which is linked to the Panama Papers scandal, pertains to the purchase of four apartments in London. It was filed against Sharif and his family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Sharif’s lawyers had challenged the sentences in the Islamabad court.

“For reasons to be recorded later on, the petition of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Mohammad Safdar [Sharif’s son-in-law] are allowed,” said Justice Athar Minallah.

The Sharifs’ convictions are still under appeal, but Sharif, Maryam and Safdar will be released from jail after completing legal formalities. 

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party maintains that the corruption charges against the former premier are politically motivated and his jail sentence was part of a “scheme” to defeat him in the July 25 elections.

Read more: Pakistan election: ‘Military does not want Sharif’s party to win another term’

“Justice has been served and I congratulate Nawaz Sharif’s supporters,” former foreign minister Khawaja Asif, a Sharif aide, said outside the courtroom where Sharif’s supporters were seen celebrating his release on bail. 

More to come …