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Pakistan court acquits former PM Sharif in graft case

Tan KW
Publish date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023, 08:03 AM
Tan KW
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ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan high court on Wednesday quashed a graft conviction against three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned from self-imposed exile last month to launch a political comeback.

Sharif is currently on bail appealing several convictions for corruption in an attempt to clear his name ahead of elections scheduled in February, with his primary opponent Imran Khan in jail.

"I had left all the matters to Allah and Allah has honoured me today," Sharif told reporters outside the Islamabad High Court.

An official of the Islamabad high court confirmed the acquittal in one case, and Sharif is still appealing a second conviction over investments in steel companies.

Sharif was jailed for 10 years in 2018 for corrupt practices linked to his family's purchase of upscale London flats.

He was ousted and barred from politics for life in 2017 for failing to declare parts of his income.

Sharif, who has been prime minister three times but has never completed a full term, has always maintained that the charges were politically motivated.

His political fortunes have risen and fallen on his relationship with Pakistan's military establishment - the country's true kingmakers who have ruled directly for more than half of its history and continue to enjoy immense power.

"Now everything is moving in favour of Nawaz Sharif," said political analyst Hasan Askari.

"This appears to be a political game managed by powerful personalities and institutions," he told AFP.

Sharif's fortunes changed when Khan had a spectacular falling out with the military.

The former cricketing superstar was later jailed in connection with several cases he says are designed to keep him from contesting elections next year.

Nawaz Sharif's younger brother Shehbaz came to power in a coalition that ousted Khan.

That government oversaw a change to the law limiting the disqualification of lawmakers from contesting elections to five years - paving the way for his return.

 -AFP

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