Nawaz Sharif lands back in jail as six-week bail expires

Former Pakistani Prime minister Nawaz Sharif (centre L) sits in a car as he heads back to Kot Lakpat Jail in Lahore on May 7, 2019, following the expiry of his bail. Nawaz Sharif will return to jail later on May 6 following the expiry of his six-week bail in a corruption case. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2019

Nawaz Sharif lands back in jail as six-week bail expires

  • Surrenders before prison authorities around midnight
  • Thanks party leaders and supporters for leading ‘solidarity rally’ to escort him to jail

LAHORE: Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif surrendered before prison authorities in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday as the six-week bail granted to him on medical grounds expired at midnight.
On May 3, the Supreme Court rejected an application by the three-time prime minister for an extension in bail granted on March 26. At midnight, as the day turned from Tuesday to Wednesday, Sharif was taken into custody by the Deputy Superintendent of the jail and shifted to a room specially prepared for him.

A team of Kot Lakhpat Jail officials arrived at the residence of the former prime minister in the afternoon and asked him to surrender but party leaders rejected the demand, saying the bail period technically expired on May 7.
“Sharif’s narrative is becoming popular and remains unchanged,” senior vice president of the party and the former prime minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, told Arab News. “The masses have rejected the government version against Nawaz Sharif as they know the reality; that he is committed to the supremacy of institutions and is sacrificing for the better future of the nation.”
Earlier in the day, Attaullah Tarrar, PMLN deputy secretary general, told Arab News about the PMLN’s plans to escort Sharif to jail in a ‘solidarity rally.’
“Mian Sahib will leave for jail after iftar,” Tarrar said, referring to the sundown meal in which practicing Muslims break their fast in the month of Ramadan. The PML-N had set up ten welcome camps on the route to the jail and given a call to party workers and supporters to gather at the Sharif family’s residence to march toward the jail in solidarity with their leader, Tarrar said.

Sharif was handed a seven-year sentence last year for failing to reveal the source of income that allowed him to set up a steel factory in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed the sentence, which has also barred him for life from holding public office.
“I am thankful to the workers of my party who traveled with me till midnight,” Sharif told his supporters in a message recorded minutes before his surrender. “With the prayers of my workers the dark night of injustice will end soon. My workers know why I am being sent to jail.”
Sharif says all charges against him are politically motivated. In November last year, he returned to Pakistan from London to face trial in anti-corruption cases he calls political revenge but which opposition leaders have termed as accountability for the rich and powerful.
On Tuesday, Sharif party leaders and supporters gathered outside his Jati Umra residence and chanted slogans in his favor and against the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan. They then moved in the form of a ‘solidarity rally’ behind the car in which he was traveling with his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party.
The PML-N had requested Lahore authorities to make security arrangements for the rally but not received any response as yet, party leaders said, adding that would continue with plans for the rally.
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.

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.