Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said he will return to Pakistan to continue to “resist and fight”. These words come hours after a court sentenced him to 10 years for corruption on Friday.
He said he would return home once his wife, Kulsoom Nawaz’s, condition improved. “I really want to talk to Kulsoom Nawaz before I leave for Pakistan,” he said.
He indicated that he would appeal the decision by saying he would consult his lawyers to “exercise [his] legal rights.” Nawaz Sharif was convicted by an accountability court but can appeal the verdict in a high court within 10 days.
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“I will continue to resist and fight,” he said. “The people of Pakistan should support me against violators of the law and Constitution.” Pakistan goes to the polls on July 25. Nawaz Sharif’s party, the PML-N, has been campaigning as the Sharifs fought court cases.
Nawaz Sharif addressed the media in London hours after being handed a 10-year jail sentence by an accountability court in Pakistan. “Until the people of this country are freed from slavery that is set by a few judges and generals, till the vote is respected and people are given the right to rule… till then I’ll continue my struggle.”
“Today’s judgment is part of my struggle,” he said. “Break all the shackles on July 25 through your vote. If the cost of dignity of the vote is jail and punishment, I’m ready for it.”
He said he saluted the workers of the PML-N and his voters for supporting him in such “testing times”
and that despite “all the injustices, the PML-N is ahead all other political parties.”
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He said that he received a message that Maryam and he should leave the country. “I was advised time and again to leave London. Although, it was easy for me to choose not to return to Pakistan I rejected it.”
He went on to say: Institutions not only violated the law but also their constitutional oath. “They think that they can oppress us,” he said. “The nation will also hold accountable the agents of such elements.”
Nawaz reacted in a calm tone. He sat next to his daughter who maintained a poker face. “I have not only faced the cases but also heard the label of ‘traitor,'” he said. “They used NAB as their tool and forced political workers to switch their loyalties.”
He accused the all-powerful security Establishment of threatening and harassing PML-N candidates in Pakistan.
“Who were the people who ousted our party from Balochistan, made Sanjrani the Senate chairman and forced our workers to join PTI?”
“Who are the people who are allotting candidates the ‘Jeep’ symbol?” he said, referring to party dissident Chaudhry Nisar and Zaeem Qadri, who grew disillusioned with the PML-N and decided to go their own way.
Nawaz said that he had heard the prosecutor saying that no evidence could be presented against him. This led him to the conclusion that, “This sentence is not for corruption, plunder or irregularity but to change the course of the country’s 70-year history.”
The media has reported that it is written in the verdict that the prosecution has not been able to prove anything against us, Nawaz said. “These sentences cannot stop me from working for Pakistan.”
“My crime is not mentioned in the verdict. Who stole [money], and when, and from whose exchequer… nothing has been mentioned,” he said.
“No commission or kickback has been proved against me,” he added. “If so, I will quit my politics forever.”
Referring to the case of a PML-N candidate being beaten in Multan, he said, “Apparently agriculture officials beat him, but do such officials threaten political workers to withdraw from elections?”
This story is being updated.