Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was released from jail on Wednesday, a day after the Supreme Court granted him six weeks’ bail to receive medical treatment within the country.
Sharif, 69, was lodged in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail since December last year, serving seven-year imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills graft case.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo, who denies wrongdoing, has suffered four angina attacks in recent weeks, according to his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
On Tuesday, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa accepted Sharif’s appeal and allowed him to get medical treatment from any health facility of his choice within the country.
Sharif is barred from leaving Pakistan.
The deposed prime minister’s supporters and party workers gathered in large numbers outside the jail and showered his car with flowers as he left the area.
Some PML-N party workers moved along with Sharif’s car till his residence.
The three-time prime minister was received by PML-N leaders and his family at his house in the Jati Umra Raiwind area here.
Sharif’s release got delayed as the court order and other required documents could not reach the jail for more than 10 hours after the bench’s direction.
The Supreme Court observed in its order that several senior doctors had suggested that Sharif’s history of hypertension, cardiac and renal ailments may present a “mild-moderate risk” if he is to undergo angiography.
Therefore, granting him relief for a limited period is a “reasonable” request, the top court said.
It directed Sharif to deposit two bail bonds worth Rs 5 million Pakistani rupees (USD 35,423) each, receive medical treatment and surrender after six weeks.
PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif thanked the court for “meeting the merits of justice”.
“We thank the SC for considering gravity of the situation in the light of the medical reports of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. We also thank the nation and workers of the PMLN whose prayers had made this day possible,” he said.
He said that Sharif’s health and well-being is the utmost priority of the party and that would be their primal focus.
The Sharif family has been complaining that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan was not providing adequate treatment to the three-time former premier who has serious health complications.
Three corruption cases – Avenfield properties, Flagship investment and Al-Azizia steel mills – were registered against the Sharif family by the anti-graft body in 2017 following a judgment by the Supreme Court that disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case in 2017.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the Avenfield corruption case in July 2018 which was related to his properties in London. Later he was given bail in September.
In December, the accountability court convicted him in the Al-Azizia graft case but acquitted him in the Flagship corruption case.
The Al-Azizia Steel Mill case is related to setting up steel mills in Saudi Arabia allegedly with corruption money.