ISLAMABAD: A local accountability court on Friday ordered the authorities to unfreeze the properties of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif amid widespread allegations by other political factions that his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party is receiving favors from state institutions ahead of the general elections scheduled in February.
Sharif returned to Pakistan on October 21 following four years of self-exile and addressed a massive public rally in the eastern city of Lahore without hindrance. This was despite his conviction on graft charges that led to a 10-year sentence and a financial penalty of $35.5 million.
Sharif subsequently secured an eight-week medical bail which enabled him to fly to London in an air ambulance in 2019. However, he continued to stay in Britain and was declared an absconder by the judiciary which seized a portion of his movable and immovable properties.
The former premier consistently denied any wrongdoing, and his party frequently claimed that the accountability cases against him were politically motivated.
“In a major relief, an accountability court in Islamabad on Friday ordered the unfreezing of properties, vehicles, and bank accounts owned by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif,” Pakistan’s Geo News TV reported.
It added these properties included 1,650-kanal agricultural land in Lahore, a Mercedes car, a Land Cruiser, two tractors, local and foreign bank accounts, a bungalow in Murree, and 102-kanal land in Sheikhupura.
The news was widely reported by other media outlets that mentioned these properties were frozen in a case involving the procurement of cars from the state’s gift repository by paying only 15 percent of the price.
The development comes at a time when Sharif’s political rivals, especially the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, have accused the current interim administration of the country and the military establishment of having a soft corner for the PML-N.
Sharif obtained protective bail against arrest from a court ahead of his return to the country and has since secured bail in two corruption cases.
The allegation has also been made by others, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who have been seeking a “level playing field” ahead of the national polls to ensure fair electoral competition.
However, the accountability court judge, Muhammad Bashir, issued unequivocal instructions to unfreeze Sharif’s properties at the outset of the hearing.