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.


Pakistanis in Dubai help release over 150 inmates from UAE prisons amid pandemic

Updated 28 min 32 sec ago

Pakistanis in Dubai help release over 150 inmates from UAE prisons amid pandemic

  • A majority of those who received Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) assistance were Pakistanis, but it also helped a number of people of other nationalities
  • Prime minister’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis says PAD is the main organization helping repatriate nationals from UAE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) has helped amid the coronavirus pandemic release and repatriate more than 150 people from prisons in the United Arab Emirates.
In the past three months, PAD helped 154 inmates at prisons in Ajman and Dubai by buying their air tickets to return home and paid the fines required for their release orders to be issued. A majority of those who received PAD assistance were Pakistanis, but the association also helped a number of people of other nationalities.
“We arranged release and repatriation of 71 inmates from Ajman central prison this month. The initiative was not the first for PAD. We had also helped in release of 83 prisoners three months back from Dubai,” Rizwan Fancy, community welfare director at PAD, told Arab News over the phone from Dubai on Saturday.
The association has been working closely with UAE authorities.
“We were in process with Ajman government since the start of this month and completed the repartition this week after fulfilling all legal and medical requirements like COVID-19 testing,” Fancy said.
Those who received the assistance had been sentenced for petty crimes such as bounced cheques or overstaying. The have completed their sentences but were unable to pay release fines.
“We usually contact authorities and they share the list of such prisoners who can be released by paying small fines,” Fancy said. “We then arrange these things for the prisoners and subsequently their release takes place. We not only arranged for the release of Pakistani prisoners but managed to help in the release of 37 prisoners from other nationalities as well.”
The foreigners included citizens of Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia, Iraq and Cameroon.
Every year, the association repatriates fellow nationals as well as other people who reach out for help, Fancy said.
“We take immense pride in serving the forgotten members of the community. We went out of our way and ensured support for all those deserving help.”
One of the repatriated Pakistanis, a resident of Chakwal who requested not to be named, said he is grateful to PAD. “They have arranged my repatriation from UAE. They have provided me with tickets and also fulfilled other requirements. My family is also very happy,” he told Arab News.
The prime minister’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis, Sayed Zulifqar Bukhari, said that in PAD has been the main organization helping repatriate Pakistanis from the UAE.
“None of it would have been possible if we didn’t have the support and contributions of organizations like PAD and other individuals,” Bukhari said.
“It’s due to them why Pakistan has such a strong diaspora in UAE.”