Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law were released from prison on Wednesday after a court suspended their sentences and granted them bail pending their appeal hearings.
The Islamabad High Court made the decision after the trio petitioned to appeal their sentences, which were handed down by an anti-graft tribunal earlier this year in a corruption case.
The three were released from a prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
The development is the latest twist in a series of scandals involving the former prime minister, beginning with his ouster from office last year, to several corruption cases and trials he still faces.
When the anti-graft tribunal first convicted and sentenced Sharif on July 6, he was in London with his daughter, visiting his critically ill wife.
The father and daughter returned home a week later and were taken to prison to serve their sentences.
Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League, lost in parliamentary elections later in July and has now taken on the mantle of opposition party to new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In Wednesday’s decision, the two-judge panel headed by Justice Athar Minallah ordered that Sharif, his daughter, Maryam Safdar, and son-in-law, Mohammad Safdar, be released once they each post a bond of 0.5 million rupees, or about US$4,000.
In the evening, the three were released from the prison, where many party leaders and a large crowd of supporters gathered to receive them, said Pakistani Senator Mushahidullah Khan, a close aide to Sharif.
Mushahidullah Khan said Sharif and relatives were escorted to the airport amid tight security. From there, they were to fly to the eastern city of Lahore.
Mushahidullah Khan said Sharif and his daughter mourned the loss of Kulsoom Nawaz, Sharif’s wife, who died after a long battle with cancer while they were in prison.
“I thought I would go straight to mother, but she is no more,” he quoted Maryam Safdar as saying.
Television footage showed a security vehicle driving the three through a massive crowd of supporters, some showering rose petals on the vehicle, while others waved party flags and chanted slogans.
Later, they arrived at the family’s estate in the Lahore suburbs to a warm reception by supporters.
Sharif was temporarily released earlier this month to attend his wife’s funeral.
Prosecutors in the case, the Pakistani National Accountability Bureau, said they would appeal the ruling and take the case against Sharif to the Pakistani Supreme Court.
Following the judges’ decision on Sharif and his family, supporters rushed to the court in jubilation, chanting pro-Sharif slogans, and waving banners and posters of the former prime minister.
“This is a triumph of justice,” said Sharif ally and former Pakistani minister of foreign affairs Khawaja Asif outside the court.
Another supporter in the crowd, Naveed Abbasi, said he is convinced Sharif was a victim of conspiracy, but that “God willing, the people will make Nawaz Sharif the prime minister again ... for a record fourth time.”
Amjad Pervez, a defense lawyer, had said the required bonds had been posted and Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law would be released from Adiala prison, where they have been serving 10-year, seven-year and one-year prison sentences respectively.
In July last year, the Pakistani Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from office over corruption allegations.
He faced several court cases at home and was later convicted of concealing assets abroad.
Sharif faces two more cases before the anti-graft tribunal and has been banned for life from public office.
Reacting to the decision, Pakistani Senator Javed Faisal, a close aide to Imran Khan, said that the court only suspended Sharif’s sentence and those of his family members, and did not acquit them.
“Their supporters should not celebrate so much as they will likely have to go again to Adiala prison,” Faisal said.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of