ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was released from prison for six weeks on Tuesday night after the Supreme Court granted him bail on medical grounds.
The three-time former prime minister was welcomed by hundreds of supporters and party members as he walked out of Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail just after midnight.
“Heres to all PMLN supporters on social media! A heartfelt ‘THANK YOU’ for being there for me in my most trying times, for never letting me down & for showing me the way,”
Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif said in a tweet thinking supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. “You laughed & cried with me. Want you to know how much I appreciate that & how much each of you means to me.”
On Tuesday the Supreme Court had ordered that Sharif be released on medical grounds but said he would not be allowed to travel abroad for treatment.
Sharif is serving a seven-year sentence for failing to disclose the source of income that allowed him to acquire the Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed.
The Sharif family and lawyers say the three-time former premier is suffering from a serious heart condition and kidney problems though the Punjab government has constantly insisted his health was stable. Last month Sharif was admitted to hospital but shifted back to prison after he rejected the Punjab government’s offer for further treatment.
Tuesday’s bail application was heard by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. Last month, the Islamabad High Court verdict had turned down a similar bail request.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris pleaded that his client’s life was at risk from serious heart and kidney conditions. He also said Sharif needed regular monitoring for blood pressure and blood sugar.
The court granted bail and ordered the former prime minister to submit two bail bonds amounting to Rs10 million in total. The top court also allowed him to approach the high court for an extension in the bail period.
“We welcome the court order, it’s a relief,” Sharif’s close aid Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan told Arab News.
Sharif was removed as prime minister by the Supreme Court in July 2017 for not disclosing part of a salary drawn from his son’s company. Later, he was convicted in two separate cases of failing to disclose sources of income. The appeal process in both cases is continuing.
Sharif says all charges against him are politically motivated and has accused the country's all-powerful military and courts of working together to end his political career. Both institutions deny the charge.