Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif, daughter released for his wife’s funeral

Both Sharifs said they had broken no law and there was no proof the residences were purchased with money from corruption. (File/Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif, daughter released for his wife’s funeral

  • The former premier and his daughter have been given parole for 12 hours but the government of Punjab province is considering an extension so they can attend the funeral on Friday
  • Both Sharifs said they had broken no law and there was no proof the residences were purchased with money from corruption

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistani authorities on Wednesday temporarily released former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter from prison to attend funeral services for his wife, Kulsoom, who died of cancer the day before in London.
Video footage from Geo TV showed Sharif walking through Islamabad’s airport amid tight security to be flown to the eastern city of Lahore, near the family home.
The former premier and his daughter have been given parole for 12 hours but the government of Punjab province is considering an extension so they can attend the funeral on Friday. The body is due to be flown back from London on Thursday.
“Initially, we released them on parole for 12 hours but the application they have given to the Punjab government is for five days and we are considering it,” provincial law minister Muhammad Raja Basharat told Reuters.
Ousted as prime minister last year by the Supreme Court over some undeclared income, Nawaz Sharif was in London with Kulsoom this year when a separate anti-graft court handed him a 10-year jail term in absentia over the ownership of luxury flats in London in the 1990s.
Maryam Sharif, his daughter and presumed political heir, was sentenced to seven years in prison on related charges.
Both Sharifs said they had broken no law and there was no proof the residences were purchased with money from corruption.
The father and daughter left Kulsoom’s bedside to return to Pakistan to rally their followers ahead of a July 25 general election. Both were arrested on arrival and have been imprisoned since.
Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which had been in power for five years, lost to the party of former cricket star Imran Khan.
Khan on Tuesday extended condolences to the Sharif family.
Three-time-premier Sharif, who was removed from office in each of his elected terms, has maintained that his most recent ousting in July 2017 and subsequent conviction were part of a plot against him by the military and the judiciary.
The army has repeatedly denied any interference in politics, while the courts insist justice is carried out impartially.


At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

Updated 17 June 2019
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At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

  • A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation
  • Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo: At least 161 people have been killed in a northeastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo in the past week, local officials said on Monday, in an apparent resurgence of ethnic clashes between farming and herding communities.
A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation, although the exact identity of the assailants remains murky.
Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo that left millions dead from conflict, hunger and disease.
Tit-for-tat attacks between the two groups in late 2017 and early 2018 killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes, but a tenuous calm had taken hold until this month.
Pascal Kakoraki Baguma, a national lawmaker from Ituri, said the latest violence was sparked by the killing last Monday of four Lendu businesspeople.
“Members of the Lendu community believed that these assassinations were the work of the Hema,” Kakoraki said. “This is why they launched several attacks on Hema villages.”
“Sources affirm that 161 bodies have been found so far. But the death toll goes beyond the bodies recovered, as there were other massacres of civilians and police officers,” he said.
Jean Bosco Lalo, president of civil society organizations in Ituri, said 200 bodies had been found since last week in predominantly Hema villages, including the 161 mentioned by Kakoraki. Lalo said the toll would rise once his teams gained access to other villages where killings had been reported.
Ituri Governor Jean Bamanisa said provincial authorities were still working to establish the exact death toll and declined to say who was responsible.
He said the assailants’ tactics were to “empty out the villages, burn them and pursue those who had fled to the surrounding areas with bladed weapons.”
Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, who took office in January, is trying to restore stability to the country’s eastern borderlands, a tinderbox of conflict among armed groups over ethnicity, natural resources and political power.
Several rebel leaders have surrendered or been captured during his first months in office, but armed violence has persisted, particularly in North Kivu province, south of Ituri, which is the epicenter of a 10-month Ebola outbreak.