In Brief

Ex-Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan to face jail

Ousted leader heads home from UK despite being sentenced to ten years for corruption

Former Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam are returning to Pakistan from the UK just days after both were handed lengthy jail sentences by an anti-corruption court.

The three-term prime minister, who was ousted from office last year, was sentenced in absentia last week to ten years in prison, after Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ruled that he and his family laundered money in the 1990s to pay for luxury apartments in Park Lane, central London.

The court, in Islamabad, also sentenced Sharif’s daughter and political heir Maryam to “seven years’ imprisonment, fined the family £10m and ordered the seizure of the Avenfield properties”, reports The Guardian.

The former PM has accused Pakistan’s powerful security establishment of conspiring in a “judicial witch-hunt” against him and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party ahead of elections on 25 July, says the BBC.

Sharif - who has been in London with his wife while she undergoes treatment for cancer -  claims the military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favour of former cricketer Imran Khan, now leader of the main opposition party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Meanwhile, Khan has accused Sharif of “maligning Pakistan’s institutions to save himself”. 

“Adiala jail is ready for you,” Khan said before last week’s verdict, also claiming that Sharif was using his wife’s illness to “emotionally blackmail” voters.

Supporters of Sharif’s PML-N party are expected to take to the streets today,  in defiance of a ban on all public rallies, to protest against the jail sentences, reports Reuters

“The Pakistani nation and the PML-N reject this decision,” Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, told reporters. “This is a dark chapter in the history of this country. There was no solid legal evidence in the entire case.”

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