By Prarthana Mitra
Months after former Pakistani Prime Minister was accused and forced to resign on corruption charges, a Pakistani court on Wednesday suspended the jail sentences of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law and Muhammad Safdar.
The three of them were embroiled in a corruption case related to the Panama Papers last year, but the Islamabad High Court ordered their release nearly three months after they were arrested. The news was greeted with relief from the Sharifs and disgruntlement from NAB lawyers who have been penalised for the way they dealt with the case.
Trajectory of the case
In July, Sharif, 68, returned from the UK to surrender himself to the law enforcement authorities but filed a petition challenging their conviction related to the purchase of luxury flats abroad. At the time he had said that the surrender was a mark of “sacrifice for the future generations of the country and for its political stability.”
Back then, accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir had sentenced the former premier and head of the Pakistan Muslim League Noon (PMLN) party to 11 years for involvement in the Avenfield properties case. Maryam was sentenced to eight years and her husband (a retired Captain) received a sentence of one year in prison.
The three had been held in the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi since then, besides been directed to submit bail bonds worth Rs 500,000. Moreover, they had been fined £8 million and barred from engaging in politics for a period of ten years. Sharif’s son-in-law was also accused of purchasing of real estate overseas with illegally gotten money.
NAB is frivolous, observed HC
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Athar Minallah delivered the verdict, suspending the sentences meted out to them on July 6. The court on Wednesday also dismissed the National Accountability Bureau’s request to declare their judgment on the maintainability of the pleas first, imposing a fine of Rs 20,000 on the anti-corruption watchdog for trying to delay this hearing. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar also called the NAB petition frivolous.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court ordered Sharif to step down from office following a government probe into his family’s wealth. This was after the publication of the Panama Papers. Several factions questioned the move, as it came at a critical and transitional time for Pakistan’s political landscape. The disgraced PMLN party completed its term in May 2018 and an interim government was in power until the July poll which yielded a victory for PTI’s Imran Khan.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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