By Syed Raza Hassan
Karachi, Pakistan July 8 : Pakistani authorities today arrested the son?in-law of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was on Friday sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison over a corruption ruling linked to his family’s purchase of luxury flats in London.
Sharif’s daughter Maryam, seen as his chosen political heir, was sentenced to seven years in prison and her husband Muhammad Safdar was given a one-year jail term in a ruling many see as a blow to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party before the July 25 election.
Pakistan’s anti-corruption National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said in a statement that Muhammad Safdar handed himself in. Earlier in the day Safdar and supporters had driven around the garrison city of Rawalpindi holding impromptu rallies, local television showed.
“After continued raids of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at his houses in Abbotabad, Mansehra and Haripur, Captain Safdar decided to surrender before NAB,” NAB said, NAB also requested media not to air Safdar’s live speeches, saying they are against the law and the code of conduct of the country’s media regulator.
After the verdict on Friday, Safdar said “justice has been massacred” and railed against the judiciary.
Sharif was jailed as the family could not explain how the obtained funds to purchase four luxury flats in London’s exclusive Hyde Park area. Maryam was given a prison term for allegedly providing a forged trust deed, for which Safdar was a witness.
Sharif and his daughter would return to Pakistan on July 13 from London where they are tending to the veteran leader’s wife, Kulsoom, who is being treated for cancer and is in a coma after suffering a heart attack last month.
“We will reach Lahore on July 13,” Maryam told reporters.
Sharif and Maryam will face arrest on arrival in Pakistan just before the election, in which his party is in a tight race with opposition figure Imran Khan’s party.
Both Sharif and Maryam deny wrongdoing and plan to appeal the NAB decision.
Sharif had denounced the court proceedings against him as politically motivated and a judicial witch-hunt, often suggesting the military was to blame.
Pakistan’s military, which has ruled the nuclear-armed country for almost half its history, denies involvement in civilian politics.
Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court in July 2017 and barred from politics for being “dishonest” by failing to report a monthly income of 10,000 Emirati dirhams ($2,723) from a company owned by his son. He denies drawing the monthly salary.