Sharif defiant despite jail verdict

Sharif and Maryam
Nawaz Sharif and Maryam

TEN-YEAR TERM WON’T STOP FORMER PAKISTAN PRESIDENT FROM HIS ‘STRUGGLE’ PAKISTAN’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a corruption court in Islamabad last Friday (6), lawyers said, dealing a serious blow to his party’s troubled campaign ahead of July 25 elections. The verdict is seen as a potentially significant boost for the main opposition party led by former World Cup cricketer Imran Khan. Sharif was ousted from his third term as prime minister by the supreme court last year following a corruption investigation and banned from politics for life, but he remains a powerful symbol for his rul­ing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Speaking at a press conference in London, where his wife is receiving cancer treatment, Sharif framed the charges against him as a conspiracy by the pow­erful military, which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half its 70-year history. “This punishment cannot stop me from my strug­gle,” Sharif said, adding he would return and face prison as soon as he is able to have a word with his wife who is on a ventilator. He also urged his sup­porters to vote for his party at upcoming national elections later this month. “We reject this decision,” his brother Shahbaz Sharif, who is leading the PML-N into Pa­kistan’s second ever dem­ocratic transition of pow­er, told a televised press conference in Lahore. Khan for his part greeted the verdict with ju­bilation at a campaign rally in the Swat valley in Paki­stan’s north-west. “Today all Pakistanis must offer thanksgiving prayers because today is the beginning of a new Paki­stan. Now robbers will not go into assemblies, but to jails,” he told a roaring crowd of thousands. Lawyers said Sharif had also been fined £8 million and the court had ordered the federal government to confiscate…

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