Pakistan court orders release of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

IHC may announce verdict on Sharifs’ pleas today

Mr Sharif's party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which had been in power for five years, lost to the party of former cricket star Imran Khan.

Sharif never completed any of his three terms as prime minister. Sharif's party and others allege the July 25 polls were rigged to favor Khan, seen to be close to the army.

Sharif received a 10-year sentence, while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to seven years and her husband, Mohammad Safdar Awan, was sentenced to one year in prison. The court's decision came petitions filed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar challenging the Avenfield verdict against them.

Earlier, the bench inquired why Maryam Nawaz had been convicted under Section-9A of the NAB's ordinance if assets were owned by Nawaz Sharif.

"Justice has been served and I congratulate Nawaz Sharif's supporters", former foreign minister Khawaja Asif, a staunch Sharif ally, said outside the courtroom.

Dozens of jubilant supporters chanted "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!" outside the court after the decision was announced. He was arrested on July 13 upon returning from London.

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4 April, 2016: The leaked Panama Papers show involvement of Sharif's family in offshore companies including two used to buy luxury homes in London.

Qureshi further argued that Maryam was living with her father as a dependent and so "the properties in her name presumably belonged to her father". When the anti-graft tribunal first convicted and sentenced Sharif on July 6, he was in London with his daughter, visiting his critically ill wife.

"The prosecutors in the case, the National Accountability Bureau, said they would appeal Wednesday's ruling and take the case against Sharif to the country's Supreme Court".

"Throughout the case, they and their political supporters have cast the allegations as part of a campaign to discredit the former premier - allegedly led by Pakistan's army, which has made little secret of its dislike for Sharif".

His impending release comes as Khan is making his first official overseas trip to Saudi Arabia, the country that gave Sharif shelter after the 1999 coup, where he is reportedly seeking financial help to stave off the likelihood of another International Monetary Fund bailout.

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