N rejects decision against Nawaz, says Shehbaz

Nawaz and Maryam outside the court premises this year

Nawaz and Maryam outside the court premises this year

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Mian Nawaz Sharif on Friday announced that he is returning to Pakistan hours after an accountability court awarded him a 10-year sentence in the Avenfield reference, ARY News reported. A Pakistani anti-graft tribunal has convicted Sharif and sentenced him to 10 years in prison over corruption. Maryam's husband and PML-N lawmaker Muhammad Safdar was sentanced to one year in prison, prosecution lawyer Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said.

Khan for his part greeted news of the verdict with jubilation at a campaign rally in the Swat valley in Pakistan's northwest.

Three-time prime minister Sharif resigned as Pakistan prime minister previous year after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ruled that graft cases be filed against the beleaguered leader and his children over the Panama Papers scandal.

After the conviction, it was not sure if Sharif and Maryam would come back to face rigorous imprisonment.

Talking to reporters in London later in the evening Nawaz said he would return to Pakistan, but avoided giving a specific date.

Both denied wrongdoing and will appeal the decision, said Sharif ally Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, adding that the former premier would return to Pakistan before the election.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Friday while reacting to the sentence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said that now corrupt leaders will not go to the parliament but will be sent to jail.

However, political analyst Qamar Cheema said that those thinking of capitalizing on the verdict should not underestimate thepopularity of the former ruling party among the masses. Addressing a news conference in London, where his wife Kulsoom Nawaz is being treated for cancer and is now in a coma, Sharif did not give a time-frame for his return.

A copy of the verdict said the Sharif family had failed to prove a legal source of income for the purchase of Avenfield apartments in 1993, 1995 and 1996.

The case stemmed from the Panama Papers leak that disclosed expensive and undeclared property owned by the Sharif family in London.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed remarked that a "political bigwig has been sentenced for the first time in Pakistan's history".

"PML-N will not perish politically as it has a strong base in northern Punjab".

Journalists and activists have spoken of pressure by the military to censor positive coverage of the PML-N campaign amid allegations of a "silent coup".

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