Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif to head back to jail as court rejects bail extension

Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif to head back to jail as court rejects bail extension
Bail extension plea of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif turned down by Supreme Court on Friday. (Photo Courtesy: AP)
Updated 04 May 2019

Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif to head back to jail as court rejects bail extension

Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif to head back to jail as court rejects bail extension
  • Refuses to allow the three-time premier to go to the United Kingdom for treatment
  • Sharif aides say court’s decision changes nothing as party workers, legislators remain committed to their leader

LAHORE: A Pakistani court on Friday rejected a plea by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that his bail on medical grounds be extended and also refused to allow him to go to the United Kingdom for treatment.
The three-time premier will now go back to prison on May 7, when his bail expires.
On March 26, the Supreme Court agreed to release the jailed leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party on bail for six weeks to receive medical treatment but said he would not be allowed to leave the country.
On Friday, Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed pleaded that his bail be extended by eight weeks on medical grounds but the court said in a short order that Sharif had been granted six weeks bail for treatment but it seemed he had spent the entire time getting medical tests done.
An angiography needs an hour whereas the court had granted six weeks, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked during the proceedings.
Sharif is serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to reveal the source of income that allowed him to set up Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed the sentence.
PMLN Chairman Raja Zafrul Haq said the court’s rejection of the bail extension would not change much for the party as legislators elected on PMLN tickets and supporters remained committed to the party and Sharif.
“The decision will not down the morale of party workers as they have full confidence in the leadership of Nawaz Sharif,” Haq said. “Neither a legislator nor a worker has changed his or her loyalty. The High Court will hear the case on May 9 and we are hopeful in getting relief from there.”
“The jail term of a prisoner only restricts his freedom of movement and does not end other fundamental rights,” Ashtar Ausaf Ali, former Attorney General for Pakistan, told Arab News, frowning upon the court’s decision not to extend the ex-PM’s bail.
Veteran journalist and longtime political observer Nusrat Javed said the rejection of Sharif’s plea by the Supreme Court would demoralize PMLN workers.
“The party will suffer for the time being as it will bring a sense of depression among the party leadership and workers,” he said.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court removed Sharif from office for not disclosing part of a salary drawn from his son’s company. He was later convicted in two separate cases of failing to disclose sources of income. In one of these cases revolving the ownership of upscale London properties, the high court suspended a 10-year sentence and granted bail last September until a final decision was made on his appeal application against the conviction. The appeal process in both cases is continuing.
Sharif says all charges against him are politically motivated and has accused the Pakistani military and courts of working together to end his political career and cut his political party down to size. Both the military and the courts deny the accusations.
In July last year, Sharif’s PML-N party lost to the Tehreek-i-Insaf party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who is now the prime minister. Sharif’s party has said the elections were rigged in favor of Khan, which Khan and his party deny.