ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s new government is considering quashing or suspending former PM Nawaz Sharif‘s conviction in corruption cases to offer him a chance to plead afresh before a court of law, a media report said on Monday.
The 72-year-old three-time premier, against whom several corruption cases were launched by the government of former PM Imran Khan, had left for London in November 2019 after the Lahore high court granted him four-week permission allowing him to go abroad for his treatment.
Dawn newspaper quoted interior minister Rana Sanaullah as saying that both the federal and Punjab’s provincial government had the powers to quash or suspend the punishment of an accused and offer him a chance to plead his case afresh before a court of law for being ‘wrongly’ sentenced earlier in the case. He said the provisions might be used to provide relief to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief and others. He, however, said that Sharif would decide his homecoming on the basis of his health.
Sharif was removed from power in 2017 after a decision by the Supreme Court against him. He was later convicted separately in two corruption cases in 2018. Sharif was given a 10-year prison sentence for owning property in London, but was released two months later when the court suspended the sentences, pending a final judgment. But in December 2018 he was jailed for corruption again, this time for seven years, related to his family’s ownership of steel mills in Saudi Arabia called the AlAzizia Steel Mills. In both cases, he failed to provide the money trail to procure these foreign assets. Sharif was in jail when allowed to go to London for four weeks for medical treatment but never returned.
He had given an undertaking to the Lahore HC to return to Pakistan.
Sharif challenged his convictions in the Islamabad high court but the process of the hearing was stopped after he failed to appear in person despite repeated warnings by the court. He can be arrested on return and put back in jail.