Pakistan’s ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was shifted to Kot Lakhpat jail here on Tuesday, a day after an anti-corruption court sentenced him to seven years in prison in a graft case linked to the high-profile Panama Papers scandal. Sharif, 69, was sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills graft case but was acquitted in the Flagship Investments reference by Islamabad-based Accountability Court on Monday.
After the verdict, Sharif was arrested in the court and taken to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. He was shifted to the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore after the court accepted his request. Sharif in his application to the court said that he wanted to serve the sentence at Kot Lakhpat jail as his family members and his personal physicians live in Lahore.
A number of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supporters gathered outside the jail to have a glimpse of their leader. However, due to high security they were not allowed to come close to the prison. Police also baton charged the workers for trying to reach the jail.
According to the jail administration, Sharif is provided with “better class” facilities. “The better class prisoners are provided with a mattress, a study table, two chairs, a TV set and newspaper,” they said. Sharif has been shifted to the barrack where former president Asif Ali Zardari was also kept in corruption cases in 1990s.
Upon reaching Kot Lakhpat jail, doctors carried out a medical examination of Sharif and found him physically fit. Commenting on the verdict on Monday, Sharif said his conscience was clear as he was never involved in any kind of corruption. “I was never involved in misuse of authority and corruption so my conscience is at peace,” he said.
Sharif’s lawyers said the accountability court’s verdict will be challenged in the Islamabad High Court. The Accountability Court verdict concluded a series of three court cases Avenfield properties case, Flagship investment case and Al-Azizia steel mills case – were launched against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on September 8, 2017 following a judgment by the Supreme Court that disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case in July last year.
Sharif, his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law Captain (retd) M Safdar were sentenced to 11 years, eight years and one year respectively in prison in the Avenfield properties case related to their purchase of four luxury flats in London through corrupt practices. However, the three were bailed out by the Islamabad High Court in September.
The apex court set the deadline for December 24 to wrap up the remaining two corruption cases against the Sharif family. The three-time former prime minister has maintained that the cases against him were initiated on the basis of allegations levelled by his political rivals and the report of a joint investigation team in the Panama Papers case was biased.