Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was shifted to the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore amid tight security on Tuesday, a day after an anti-corruption court sentenced him to seven years in prison in a graft case linked to the high-profile Panama Papers scandal.
Mr Sharif, 69, was sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills graft case but was acquitted in the Flagship Investments case by the Accountability Court in Islamabad on Monday.
The three-time former prime minister, who was taken into custody by police following the court judgement, was taken to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on Monday.
Upon reaching Adiala jail, jail doctors carried out a medical examination of the PML-N leader and found him physically fit.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Sharif was taken to Nur Khan Air Base amid tight security. He was then flown to Lahore, where he was shifted to the Kot Lakhpat jail. Tight security had been put in place around the jail and Rangers were deployed at the police check posts established on the route to the prison.
Shortly after his conviction in the National Accountability Court’s Al-Azizia corruption case Monday, Mr Sharif’s counsel requested court to shift him to Lahore jail instead of Adiala since the veteran leader is a heart patient and his personal physicians and family members are stationed in Lahore. The request was granted.
The Punjab province government approved the provision of “better class” jail facilities for Mr Sharif. The better class prisoners are provided with a mattress, a study table and chair in addition to a TV set and newspaper.
A large number of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supporters gathered outside the jail to have a glimpse of their Quaid (supreme) leader. However, due to high security they were not allowed to come close to the prison. Police also baton charged the PML-N workers for trying to reach the jail.
According to the jail administration, Mr Sharif is provided with “better class” facilities.
Mr Sharif has been shifted to the barrack where former president Asif Ali Zardari was also kept in corruption cases in 1990s.
Upon reaching Kot Lakhpat jail, doctors carried out a medical examination of Sharif and found him physically fit.
Tuesday also marks Mr Sharif’s 69th birthday. The PML-N’s provincial secretariats have planned celebrations, along with Christmas celebrations. The party members also cut a cake in front of the Kot Lakhpat jail.
Commenting on the verdict on Monday, Mr Sharif said his conscience was clear as he was never involved in any kind of corruption.
“I was never involved in misuse of authority and corruption so my conscience is at peace,” he said.
Mr Sharif’s lawyers said the accountability court’s verdict will be challenged in the Islamabad High Court.
The accountability court verdict on Monday concluded a series of three court cases – Avenfield properties case, Flagship investment case and Al-Azizia steel mills case – launched against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on September 8, 2017 following a judgment by the Supreme Court that disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case in July last year.
Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law Captain (retd) M Safdar were sentenced to 11 years, eight years and one year respectively in prison in the Avenfield properties case related to their purchase of four luxury flats in London through corrupt practices. However, the three were bailed out by the Islamabad High Court in September.
The apex court set the deadline for December 24 to wrap up the remaining two corruption cases against the Sharif family.
On Monday, the court delivered the judgement in two remaining cases.
Mr Sharif was also disqualified for 10 years from holding any public office. The disqualification will go into effect following his release from jail after serving the seven-year sentence.
The three-time former prime minister has maintained that the cases against him were initiated on the basis of allegations levelled by his political rivals and the report of a joint investigation team in the Panama Papers case was biased.