July 7: Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a corruption court in Islamabad yesterday, lawyers said, dealing a serious blow to his party’s troubled campaign ahead of July 25 elections.
The verdict, a potentially significant boost for the main opposition party led by former World Cup cricketer Imran Khan, immediately raised questions over whether Sharif will return to Pakistan from London, where his wife is receiving cancer treatment. Pakistan has no extradition treaty with the UK.
Sharif was ousted from his third term as prime minister by the Supreme Court last year following a corruption investigation and banned from politics for life, but remains a powerful symbol for his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Speaking at a press conference in London, Sharif said the charges were framed against him in a conspiracy by the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half its 70- year history.