Nawaz Sharif lands back in jail as six-week bail expires

Former Pakistani Prime minister Nawaz Sharif (centre L) sits in a car as he heads back to Kot Lakpat Jail in Lahore on May 7, 2019, following the expiry of his bail. Nawaz Sharif will return to jail later on May 6 following the expiry of his six-week bail in a corruption case. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2019

Nawaz Sharif lands back in jail as six-week bail expires

  • Surrenders before prison authorities around midnight
  • Thanks party leaders and supporters for leading ‘solidarity rally’ to escort him to jail

LAHORE: Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif surrendered before prison authorities in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday as the six-week bail granted to him on medical grounds expired at midnight.
On May 3, the Supreme Court rejected an application by the three-time prime minister for an extension in bail granted on March 26. At midnight, as the day turned from Tuesday to Wednesday, Sharif was taken into custody by the Deputy Superintendent of the jail and shifted to a room specially prepared for him.

A team of Kot Lakhpat Jail officials arrived at the residence of the former prime minister in the afternoon and asked him to surrender but party leaders rejected the demand, saying the bail period technically expired on May 7.
“Sharif’s narrative is becoming popular and remains unchanged,” senior vice president of the party and the former prime minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, told Arab News. “The masses have rejected the government version against Nawaz Sharif as they know the reality; that he is committed to the supremacy of institutions and is sacrificing for the better future of the nation.”
Earlier in the day, Attaullah Tarrar, PMLN deputy secretary general, told Arab News about the PMLN’s plans to escort Sharif to jail in a ‘solidarity rally.’
“Mian Sahib will leave for jail after iftar,” Tarrar said, referring to the sundown meal in which practicing Muslims break their fast in the month of Ramadan. The PML-N had set up ten welcome camps on the route to the jail and given a call to party workers and supporters to gather at the Sharif family’s residence to march toward the jail in solidarity with their leader, Tarrar said.

Sharif was handed a seven-year sentence last year for failing to reveal the source of income that allowed him to set up a steel factory in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed the sentence, which has also barred him for life from holding public office.
“I am thankful to the workers of my party who traveled with me till midnight,” Sharif told his supporters in a message recorded minutes before his surrender. “With the prayers of my workers the dark night of injustice will end soon. My workers know why I am being sent to jail.”
Sharif says all charges against him are politically motivated. In November last year, he returned to Pakistan from London to face trial in anti-corruption cases he calls political revenge but which opposition leaders have termed as accountability for the rich and powerful.
On Tuesday, Sharif party leaders and supporters gathered outside his Jati Umra residence and chanted slogans in his favor and against the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan. They then moved in the form of a ‘solidarity rally’ behind the car in which he was traveling with his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party.
The PML-N had requested Lahore authorities to make security arrangements for the rally but not received any response as yet, party leaders said, adding that would continue with plans for the rally.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court removed Sharif from office for not disclosing part of a salary drawn from his son’s company. He was later convicted in two separate cases of failing to disclose sources of income. In one of these cases revolving the ownership of upscale London properties, the high court suspended a 10-year sentence and granted bail last September until a final decision was made on his appeal application against the conviction. The appeal process in both cases is continuing.


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.