ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s Supreme Court Tuesday allowed ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to be released from jail for six weeks on medical grounds.
Sharif is currently serving a seven-year prison term handed down last year by an anti-corruption court for failing to disclose the source of his income used to acquire the ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia.
The former leader’s attorneys had sought permission for Sharif to seek urgent treatment, saying his health was deteriorating. They maintained the 69-year-old former Pakistani prime minister has twice undergone open heart surgery abroad and he needed to consult the same doctors.
But Tuesday’s court ruling barred the thrice-elected former-prime minister from leaving Pakistan and directed him to use medical facilities of his choice inside the country. The three-judge panel, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, also ruled that Sharif will have to surrender himself to jail authorities once his six-week relief period is over.
Sharif was asked to pay five million rupees ($35,000) before he was granted the bail and freed from prison.
Government officials said arrangements were in place in and outside the prison for Sharif to obtain treatment. But the former leader, they alleged, refused to avail them merely to politicize his sentence.
The Supreme Court in July 2017 disqualified and ousted Sharif from office for not disclosing a salary he was receiving in an overseas bank account from his son’s company.
The former prime minister and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party both reject corruption charges against him as politically motivated. They accuse the powerful military of orchestrating the legal challenges, enabling Sharif’s chief political rival and current prime minister Imran Khan’s party to win the July 2018 election.
Khan and army leaders reject the accusations.