Muted Eid celebrations in prison for Pakistan’s former premier and family

Special Muted Eid celebrations in prison for Pakistan’s former premier and family
Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined £8 million for the ownership of assets beyond his income, while his pollical heir-apparent Maryam Nawaz, was sentenced to 7 years for abetting and forgery, and fined £2 million. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP)
Updated 24 August 2018

Muted Eid celebrations in prison for Pakistan’s former premier and family

Muted Eid celebrations in prison for Pakistan’s former premier and family
  • Nawaz Sharif offered Eid prayers in high-security facility
  • PML-N members permitted to visit the Sharifs on Friday, after refusal on first two days of Eid Al-Adha

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister and head of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party (PML-N), Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law Safdar Awan —  all currently imprisoned on corruption charges, reportedly spent a low-key Eid Al-Adha in jail without any celebratory activities. Local media reports, citing unnamed sources, claimed Sharif offered his Edi prayers in the high-security barracks of the Rawalpindi jail.
According to a security official who spoke to Arab News, it is unlikely that the Sharifs would have been allowed to sacrifice an animal —  a common practice during Eid celebrations — in the prison.
Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz —  now the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly — met with all three inmates on Wednesday, according to local media reports.And a number of PML-N members were allowed to visit the Sharifs on Friday. The former foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, arriving outside the Rawalpindi jail, told reporters, “I have come to meet Nawaz today as we weren’t allowed (in) over the last two days.”
PML-N spokesperson and former information minister Maryam Aurangzeb told Arab News that Sharif, “gave no statement and didn’t send any message” on the occasion of Eid. The PML-N leadership declined to answer further questions relating to the Sharifs.
This is the second time Sharif has spent Eid in jail, Mushahidullah Khan, information secretary for the PML-N, told Arab News. During his second tenure as prime minister, he was jailed after the October 1999 coup staged by General Pervez Musharraf and exiled to Saudi Arabia in December 2000.
Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined £8 million for the ownership of assets beyond his income, while his pollical heir-apparent Maryam Nawaz, was sentenced to 7 years for abetting and forgery, and fined £2 million. Awan was sentenced to one year in prison by an accountability court in July in the Avenfield property case — one of three references implicating the powerful political family in corruption.
Earlier this week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) adjourned the Sharif family’s appeals to suspend their conviction. The hearing will resume in the second week of September. The three convicts had hoped for a swift judgment in their favor, and reportedly expected to celebrate Eid out of jail.
Legal expert Sharafat Ali, an assistant to Sharif’s defense team, believes the case will be passed up to the Supreme Court. He explained: “Appeals and petitions for suspension of sentence and grant of bail are two different cases for each convict.”
He said he was “flabbergasted” when the court decided to join the “bails (hearings) with appeals” when “at length, exhaustive arguments from both (defense and prosecution) have been heard (by the court) for over two weeks.”
Ali told Arab News, “These petitions should have been decided, regardless of whether they were accepted or rejected” by the court. “Since Awan was convicted for one year, he could have been granted bail immediately.”
The country’s ex-president, Asif Ali Zaradari, who is also embroiled in corruption and money-laundering cases, was granted protective bail immediately by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) last week against the non-bailable arrest orders issued by a banking court. This has once again raised questions of judicial impartiality and military interference. 
However, political analyst Qamar Cheema said, “There is an impression that unelected institutions are manipulating Pakistan’s judiciary but that’s not true. The judiciary is independent, strong, assertive and capable of implementing its decisions.
“Any impression that Sharif and his daughter are facing discrimination from the judiciary is baseless,” he added.