Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan from London to appeal 10-year jail sentence

Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif arriving at an office in central London, on July 6, 2018.
Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif arriving at an office in central London, on July 6, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI(REUTERS) - Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will return to the country from London on Friday (July 13) to face a 10-year jail sentence handed down by an anti-corruption court, which convicted him for not declaring assets.

Sharif will reach Lahore, his home town and political stronghold, on July 13, his daughter Maryam said in a Twitter post.

Maryam, who will return to Pakistan with her father, and her husband Muhammad Safdar also received a 7-year and 1-year sentence respectively.

Many see the ruling as a blow to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party ahead of the July 25 election.

Sharif and his children have been in Britain since June attending to his ailing wife Kulsoom, who is being treated for cancer and is in a coma after suffering a heart attack last month.

Sharif was sentenced to jail on Friday as the family could not explain how they obtained funds to purchase four luxury flats in London's exclusive Hyde Park area. Maryam was given a prison term for allegedly providing a forged trust deed, for which Safdar was a witness.

Sharif and Maryam will face arrest on arrival in Pakistan just before the election, in which his party is in a tight race with opposition figure Imran Khan's party.

Both Sharif and Maryam, seen as her father's chosen political heir, deny wrongdoing and plan to appeal the decision of the anti-corruption National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Safdar, who was in Pakistan, was arrested by officials of the anti-graft agency on Sunday. The NAB said in a statement that Safdar handed himself in.

Earlier in the day Safdar and supporters had driven around the garrison city of Rawalpindi holding impromptu rallies, local television showed.

"After continued raids of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at his houses in Abbotabad, Mansehra and Haripur, Captain Safdar decided to surrender before NAB," NAB said.

The bureau also requested media not to air Safdar's live speeches, saying they are against the law and the code of conduct of the country's media regulator.

After the verdict on Friday, Safdar said "justice has been massacred" and railed against the judiciary.

Sharif had denounced the court proceedings against him as politically motivated and a judicial witch-hunt, often suggesting the military was to blame.

Pakistan's military, which has ruled the nuclear-armed country for almost half its history, denies involvement in civilian politics.

Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court in July 2017 and barred from politics for being "dishonest" by failing to report a monthly income of 10,000 Emirati dirhams (S$3,690) from a company owned by his son. He denies drawing the monthly salary.