Ex-Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif gets 7 years for corruption

Deposed prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, above, was sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption linked to his family businesses in the Middle East, state media said on Monday.

An accountability court imposed a fine of $25 million on him and ordered the seizure of his properties. It said Sharif stands disqualified from holding any public office for 10 years after serving his seven-year jail term.

The case pertains to Sharif’s failure to prove his source of income for setting up Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. The court found he was owning assets beyond his means. However, he was acquitted in another case related to Flagship Investments in the UK.

Former prime minister and leader of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party Shahid Khaqan Abbasi questioned Monday’s verdict announced behind closed doors. He said the party would challenge the ruling.

PML-N supporters clashed with security personnel outside the court after the sentencing. Police had to burst tear gas and resort to baton-charge after the protesters refused to disperse.

Denying all charges against him, Sharif said the powerful military had been consistently targeting his party and family so as to gain control over the administration, especially in foreign policy matters.

Sharif’s government was following fairly good ties with its neighbour India. The military did not like this and in the general elections this year, it supported Sharif’s rival Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to ensure that a pliable government comes to power.

Khan, who is the incumbent prime minister, is toeing the military line and taking a hard stand on India militarily and diplomatically.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain Mohammad Safdar had also been sentenced to seven years and one year in prison respectively in the same case. The two are on bail.

Shehbaz Sharif, Sharif’s younger brother, is already in the custody of National Accountability Bureau in connection with a housing scandal.

Despite the family arrests, Sharif’s party emerged second in the July general elections, securing 82 seats in the 342-member lower house.

Three months later, in the by-elections, PML-N won back some key seats it lost to Khan’s party in the general polls.