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Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif sentenced to 10 years in prison

A court in Pakistan has handed a jail term to former PM Nawaz Sharif in a Panama Papers corruption case.

Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif sentenced to 10 years in prison

A court in Pakistan has handed a jail term to former PM Nawaz Sharif in a Panama Papers corruption case. Some analysts say the verdict will give Pakistan’s powerful military more behind-the-scenes influence on politics.In a highly anticipated verdict in the Panama Papers case, an accountability court in Islamabad found ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family guilty of corruption and sentenced the former PM to ten years in prison. Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, was given a seven-year jail term.

The decision comes less than three weeks before Pakistan holds parliamentary elections, on July 25.The Avenfield case, which pertains to the purchase of four flats in London, was filed against Sharif and his family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).Earlier on Friday, the accountability court rejected Sharif’s plea to postpone the ruling for a week. Sharif is currently in London to attend to his ailing wife. It is unclear whether Sharif would return to Pakistan.

In April, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that the former prime minister cannot participate in politics for the rest of his life.The top court had removed Sharif from office on corruption charges in July last year.

‘Panamagate’

In April 2016, Sharif found himself in a precarious position following the “revelations” made by the famed Panama Papers. Leaked documents showed that three of Sharif’s children had links with offshore companies that owned properties in London. Sharif denies any wrongdoing.

Subsequently, a petition against Sharif was filed in the country’s Supreme Court, which initially ruled against Sharif’s disqualification as prime minister but formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to further probe allegations.

The JIT pointed out failure on the part of the Sharif family to produce the required documents that would confirm their “known sources of income,” underlining that the prime minister’s family was not able to reconcile their assets with their means of income.

Consequently, the six-member JIT recommended that the case be forwarded to NAB, which deals with corruption cases.

Sharif was swept into power in 2013 after comfortably winning the general election.

Three-time PM Sharif never completed a term as prime minister, having been removed during his second term by a military coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

Potential military control

Some analysts say the court verdict against Sharif, who remains popular among the Pakistani electorate, will give the military more behind-the-scenes influence. The powerful military has ruled the South Asian country for nearly half of its history.Some analysts say that Sharif is being “victimized” by the country’s powerful military establishment, which is allegedly backing the opposition parties. The army leadership is very skeptical of Sharif due to his repeated attempts to improve ties with India and enhance trade between the two South Asian nuclear-armed archrivals. Also, a strong civilian government has always been a threat to the military’s unchecked power, they say

Potential military control

Some analysts say the court verdict against Sharif, who remains popular among the Pakistani electorate, will give the military more behind-the-scenes influence. The powerful military has ruled the South Asian country for nearly half of its history.Some analysts say that Sharif is being “victimized” by the country’s powerful military establishment, which is allegedly backing the opposition parties. The army leadership is very skeptical of Sharif due to his repeated attempts to improve ties with India and enhance trade between the two South Asian nuclear-armed archrivals. Also, a strong civilian government has always been a threat to the military’s unchecked power, they say.

Elections scheduled for August will pit Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party against its main rival, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Movement for Justice) party, led by former cricket star Imran Khan.

Despite a number of court rulings against the PML-N, a recent series of by-election wins shows that it remains a force to be reckoned with.

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