Nawaz Sharif reaches Lahore to serve jail term

Pakistani policemen escort a car transporting Pakistani former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as it arrives at Kot Lakhpat prison, a day after the anti-corruption court sentenced him to seven years in prison, in Lahore on Dec. 25, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 December 2018

Nawaz Sharif reaches Lahore to serve jail term

  • Has been sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment in a corruption case
  • Conviction is ‘politically-motivated’, ex-PM Abbasi tells Arab News

LAHORE: Three-time former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif was moved to the Kot Lakhpat Jail on Tuesday to begin his seven-year jail term in the high-security zone of the prison.
The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo was awarded the sentence on charges of corruption and for setting up a steel mill in Saudi Arabia where he and his family had been residing in exile after being removed from office in a bloodless military coup.
Sharif was taken into custody on Monday evening after an accountability court’s judge announced the verdict. He was, however, acquitted in another corruption case filed against him in the same court
It is the second conviction handed down to Sharif in the past six months after he was sentenced to 10 years in jail in the Avenfield London flats corruption case.
His daughter, Maryam Nawaz, was also jailed for seven years in the same case while his son-in-law, Safdar Awan, was jailed for one year. The two are out on bail after the Islamabad High Court ordered their release after suspending the conviction.
Meanwhile, top PML-N leaders termed the convictions as a politically-motivated move to oust Sharif out of the active political arena.
“It is another dark decision against the politicians of Pakistan that will neither be endorsed by the masses nor history. The politicians are being victimized for the last 70 years. The PML-N is avoiding the politics of aggression for the longevity of the parliament and democracy but the system cannot afford such practices anymore,” former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Arab News.
Sharif spent the night at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail and was flown to Lahore on Tuesday morning after the court accepted his request to be moved to Lahore due to his medical condition.
Sharif suffers from a heart condition and it was easier for his doctors and family members to meet him in Lahore.
“The conviction is baseless as the prosecution did not have any documentary evidence against Nawaz Sharif. They even did not produce a single witness against him (Nawaz). It is a politically motivated decision,” Raja Zafarul Haq, PML-N Chairman, told Arab News.
Sharif has been moved to a high-security zone where he has been given a separate room with a small garden attached. 
The Punjab government also approved a request for a ‘better class’ in jail for Sharif making him eligible to get a mattress, a study table and chair, a TV set, and access to newspapers during his stay.
The aircraft which flew in the former premier landed at Lahore airport in the early hours of the day where a special team of law enforcement agencies took him to the Kot Lakhpat Jail amid tight security. 
A number of PML-N workers gathered at the PECO Railway Crossing, enroute to the jail, and chanted slogans in favor of their leader.
PML-N legislators and party workers also celebrated Sharif’s birthday on December 25 before leaving the venue. 
Jail sources, requesting anonymity, told Arab News that Sharif was taken to a hospital on the premises after being registered as a prisoner. The jail doctor conducted his medical examination before pronouncing him completely fit.
Sharif’s younger brother and PML-N president, Shehbaz Sharif, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, is also behind bars in the same facility.
Authorities have taken tight security measures by setting up a check post on the road leading to the prison where Sharif is lodged.

Pakistan gets lifeline till Feb 2021 as FATF continues to keep it on grey list

Updated 23 October 2020

Pakistan gets lifeline till Feb 2021 as FATF continues to keep it on grey list

  • The country has completed 21 out of 27 items of the global financial watchdog’s action plan, acknowledges FATF officials
  • The government of Pakistan has signaled the commitment to complete the rest of the action plan, says the FATF president

KARACHI: The global financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), decided on Friday to keep Pakistan on its “grey list” while acknowledging that the country had made significant progress in meeting international anti-terrorism financing norms and should not be downgraded to the “blacklist.”

The FATF began its virtual plenary meeting on October 21 under the first two-year German presidency of Dr Marcus Pleyer.

“Pakistan will remain our increased monitoring list,” he announced after the end of the conference. “The plenary recognizes that Pakistan has made progress. The government has now completed 21 out of 27 items of its action plan. The government of Pakistan has signaled the commitment to complete the rest of its action plan.”

“Even though Pakistan has made progress it needs to do more,” he continued. “It cannot stop now and needs to carry out reforms in particular to implement targeted financial sanctions and prosecuting sanctions financing terrorism.”

Responding to a question, the FATF president said that onsite inspection would be carried out after the next plenary in February 2021 to decide about Pakistan’s exclusion from the grey list.

Pakistan was placed on the list of countries with inadequate controls over terrorism financing by the FATF in June 2018.

The Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), an inter-governmental organization in the Asia-Pacific region, issued the first Follow Up Report (FUR) on Pakistan last month.

The report reflected the country’s performance until February 2020 and noted that it had complied with only two recommendations related to financial institution secrecy laws and financial intelligence units out of 40 recommendations on the effectiveness of anti-money laundering and combating financing terror (AML/CFT) system.

However, Pakistan managed to pass three crucial FATF-related laws during a joint session of parliament in September this year. With these laws, the country managed to comply with most of the legislation required by the international watchdog to strength the country’s financial system.

The FATF “strongly” urged Pakistan in February this year to complete its full action plan by June 2020, warning it would take action against the country which could include advising financial institutions to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan. Later, the deadline was extended and the country was given time until October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan also punished Hafiz Saeed, a Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader, in a terror financing case and decided to send him to prison for five and a half years.

Commenting on the FATF decision, financial experts said the decision to keep Pakistan on grey list owed to the government’s hasty legislation.

“The most vital issue relates to the roles assigned to the AML-CFT authority and self-regulatory bodies. These laws give powers to regulate AML-CFT to various government and professional bodies. They were not carefully drafted, create conflict of interest, and are complicated and ambiguous,” Dr Ikram ul Haq, a Lahore-based senior economist, said after the FATF decision.

The FATF blacklist have international pariah states like Iran and North Korea, and these countries are shunned by international financial institutions.