Ex-PM Sharif heading back to Pakistan despite sentence

Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks during a UK PML-N Party Workers Convention meeting with supporters in London on July 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Ex-PM Sharif heading back to Pakistan despite sentence

  • Sharif was sentenced by a court in Islamabad last week over the purchase of high-end properties in London

LONDON: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said he would return to Pakistan this week despite being sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a corruption court there.
"Despite seeing the bars of prison in front of my eyes, I am going to Pakistan," he told a conference of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party in London.
"Put Nawaz Sharif in prison for life, send him to the gallows but you will have to answer the questions that the people of Pakistan are asking and they will stop only after getting answers," he said to cheering from supporters.
Sharif also alluded to the power of Pakistan's security establishment, saying: "There was a time when we used to say a state within a state, now it's a state above the state".
At the conference, held in the ballroom of the Grosvenor House hotel in central London's plush Mayfair district, one man held a placard reading: "Leave democracy alone".
Attendees chanted "Nawaz Sharif, We Love You!" as he concluded his speech.
Sharif was sentenced by a court in Islamabad last week over the purchase of high-end properties in London.
He was ousted from his third term as prime minister by the Supreme Court last year following a corruption investigation and banned from politics for life but remains a powerful symbol for his ruling party.
Usman Khan, PML-N's coordinator in Britain, told AFP that Sharif's case "was manipulated by the judiciary and the establishment in Pakistan".
Khan said Sharif would leave London on Thursday and arrive in Lahore in Pakistan at around 0600 or 0700 GMT.
"We are expecting a large crowd to welcome him," he said.
Khan said he hoped Sharif would be allowed to speak to his supporters in Pakistan "before he surrenders himself to the authorities".


Explosions hit Afghan celebration, Helmand governor hurt

Updated 23 March 2019
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Explosions hit Afghan celebration, Helmand governor hurt

  • The bombing disrupted Farmers Day celebrations
  • The cause of the explosion is not yet identified

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan: Two explosions went off at a public celebration in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah on Saturday, killing two people and wounding the governor of Helmand province, security and hospital officials said.

The blasts came during a Farmers Day celebration at an outdoor stadium that was attended by nearly 1,000 people.

The provincial governor, Mohammad Yasin Khan, was knocked over by the blasts before he was quickly removed from the celebration, according to a Reuters witness. The governor’s condition was unclear.

Two people were killed and 23 were wounded, according to initial estimates by hospital officials.

The blasts appeared to have been caused by planted explosives.

The attack is one of several to occur during Afghanistan’s multi-day celebrations to mark its traditional new year, beginning with explosions in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday. Those attacks killed six people and wounded 23 and were claimed by Islamic State.

The traditional new year is widely celebrated in Afghanistan but some hard-line Islamists oppose the festivities, saying they are un-Islamic.

Helmand is one of several Afghan provinces in which insurgents have the greatest control and influence. Lashkar Gah is the provincial capital.

Saturday’s attack came exactly one year after a car bomb killed at least 14 people who had gathered to watch a wrestling match in Lashkar Gah.