Pakistan allows former prime minister Sharif to return home
The former three-time prime minister has been in self-exile for nearly four years, after being convicted on corruption charges
A Pakistan court granted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif protective bail on Thursday, barring his arrest and hence allowing the three-time prime minister to return home from self-exile.
Lawyer Azam Nazeer Tarar told reporters that protective bail prevents authorities from arresting Sharif until he appears before a court on October 24.
He's due back in his political heartland of Lahore on Saturday, where a welcome home rally is scheduled.
"It's a new beginning," Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq, the chairman of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, told the French news agency AFP. "His return is poised to be a momentous development."
Who is Nawaz Sharif?
Known as the "Lion of Punjab," Sharif served three, yet incomplete terms in office, starting in 1990. He was sacked for corruption in 1993, returning again to the post in 1997, only to be deposed two years later in a military coup.
His final stint ended in 2017, with the Supreme Court disqualifying him from politics for life over graft accusations, which he denies.
In 2018, he was convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to seven years in prison. But in 2019, a court allowed him to travel to London for medical treatment, where he chose to remain in self-imposed exile.
Why is the timing of his return significant?
Sharif accused leaders of Pakistan's powerful military, which has directly and indirectly led the country since its independence in 1947, of ousting him from his post.
However, the former prime minister has tempered his stance against the military. Sharif's lawyer said he intended to overturn his sentences and campaign for the country's general election, slated for next January.
Sharif is former prime minister Imran Khan's rival. The latter is also currently in jail, after parliament ousted him last year, and he was convicted of corruption charges earlier this year.
Published: 20 Oct 2023, 9:53 AM