Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Mian Nawaz Sharif on Friday announced that he is returning to Pakistan hours after an accountability court awarded him a 10-year sentence in the Avenfield reference, ARY News reported.
The sentence, 10 years in prison and a fine of 8 million pounds, or $10.6 million, came nearly a year after Supreme Court removed Sharif from office and less than five months after the court barred him from holding office for life.
The Avenfield case was among the three corruption cases filed against the former premier and his children by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the Supreme Court's orders in the Panama Papers case which disqualified Sharif.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed the case, along with two others, on the Supreme Court's directives in the landmark Panama Papers case verdict a year ago which disqualified Sharif, the three-time prime minister.
He now stands as an exemplar of two of the country's most central issues: as a staunch defender of civilian governance amid military manipulation, and as a symbol of a venal Pakistani elite that has alienated much of the public.
Amjad Pervez, counsel of Sharif's daughter Maryam, argued that the law stipulates the presence of the accused when the verdict is read out.
The court also gave Nawaz's daughter Maryam a seven-year prison sentence and a £2 million fine, rendering her disqualified to contest the 2018 general elections in Pakistan.
Nawaz's son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was given a one year sentence.
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Accountability Court judge Mohammed Bashir also rejected an application from the Sharifs to postpone the announcement of the verdict as Mr. Sharif is now with his wife Kulsoom Nawaz in London who is on ventilator for the past three weeks.
"The party campaign now depends on Nawaz's decision to return", said Rasul Baksh Rais, prominent analyst and professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
"Pakistani people and PML-N reject this verdict".
1990 - First elected prime minister. "This decision will be written in black words in history", he said.
As per an election campaign travel log of party supremo Imran Khan, he will be making several campaign stops at 25 different cities of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh ahead of the July 25 general election.
But the military ended Sharif's second stint in power in 1999 in a bloodless coup.
He also said that the verdict showed that Avenfield apartments were purchased with corruption money and were in ownership of Sharif family since 1993. Nawaz Sharif's sentencing is credited to Khan.
After much delay, the accountability court of Islamabad on Friday finally announced the verdict.