Pakistan court rejects bail for ex-PM Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad High Court denies bail on medical grounds to former prime minister currently admitted in Lahore hospital.

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sits on a plane after landing at the Allama Iqbal International Airport
Sharif is being treated for heart complications at a hospital in Lahore [Drazen Jorgic/Reuters]

A Pakistani court has rejected the bail plea on medical grounds of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently serving a seven-year jail term for corruption. 

The Islamabad High Court said in its decision in the capital on Monday that Sharif could not be given bail on health grounds as he was already being treated at a hospital. 

Sharif, who was sentenced in December for being unable to prove the source of income for the ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia in a string of court cases against him, made the request after multiple complaints of chest and other body pains.

He was recently admitted to a hospital in the eastern city of Lahore for treatment for a heart condition, with a government-appointed medical board assigned to ascertain his medical condition.

Sharif’s lawyers argued that he was too frail to be kept in jail and was suffering from multiple problems related to the heart, kidney, hypertension and diabetes. 

“None of the reports [about Sharif’s condition] suggest that continued incarceration of the petitioner, in any way, would be detrimental to his life,” the judges ruled on Monday.

The former prime minister is “receiving the best possible medical treatment available to any individual in Pakistan,” the court order added. 

Khawaja Asif, a former foreign minister and leader of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, said an appeal would be filed in the Supreme Court against the rejection.

“We don’t agree with the decision but will accept it out of respect for the courts,” he said. 

Banned for life

Sharif remains barred from running for public office for life after the Supreme Court in April ruled he had lied on a parliamentary wealth declaration and the disqualification from that crime would last for an indefinite period.  

The three-time former prime minister was dismissed from office in July 2017 over corruption allegations, with the country’s top court ordering the anti-corruption watchdog to launch proceedings against him and his family.

Sharif and his children – two sons and a daughter – were charged with three counts of corruption during his two stints in power in the 1990s.

He has denied all charges against him and says he is being targeted by the country’s powerful security establishment.

Sharif was handed a 10-year jail term last year in July on charges related to the purchase of upscale apartments in London but was released from prison two months later and the sentence was suspended pending an appeal.

He was acquitted on one of the remaining charges in December before being jailed for seven years on the third charge. 

In 2016, an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) leak of 11.5 million legal documents – dubbed the Panama Papers – showed the Sharif family had secured a $13.8m loan in 2007, using the apartments as collateral.

Sharif has been removed from office during previous terms in the 1990s – once, after a tussle with the president and a second time, in a military coup by former Army Chief Pervez Musharraf.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies