Ahead of his 69th birthday, Sharif sent to 7 years in jail

Nawaz Sharif sentenced to seven years in prison in controversial corruption case

Monday's verdict came after Sharif was removed from power a year ago over corruption allegations.

Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda Wednesday said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had offered $2 billion as a plea-bargain through different sources. On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the accountability court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.

The judge reportedly determined that the Pakistani PM failed to justify the source of the funds provided to set up the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment (HME) in Saudi Arabia, " Dawn explains. The court acquitted him in the Flagship Investment reference.

According to Pakistan's anti-graft body, it will challenge the acquittal of Sharif, who was sent to jail a day before his birthday.

A large number of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters and senior party leaders were present outside the court to show their support for the party's supreme leader. "The joint opposition, if launched, will be inside and outside the parliament", said Haq, "But whatever shape it takes, we will make sure that it is within the ambit of the law".

The accountability court had indicted Sharif for holding assets beyond his known sources of income in August 2017.

After being held at a jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Sharif, on his request, is expected to be taken to a jail in Lahore on Tuesday.

Accountability Court Judge Arshad Malik announced the verdict in a short order, after reserving the decision last week.

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Sharif has argued that the military, in cahoots with top members of the judiciary, has used a series of cases against him and others in his party to tip the scales in favor of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

Judge Malik, however, said that there was no case against Sharif in the Flagship case. They later bailed on appeal when the Islamabad High Court suspended their sentence in September. The court had reserved its judgement in the cases last week.

The two brothers, based overseas, have been absconding since the proceedings began previous year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court. However, there was not enough evidence to convict Sharif in the Flagship reference, thus he was acquitted.

"Punishment to the same man for the fourth time".

For many, the verdict in Sharif's case is a continuation of a systemic effort to undermine the politics of the former three-time prime minister in Pakistan.

Sharif said he had never misused his power as prime minister of Pakistan or chief minister of Punjab province. To avoid the jail, the deposed prime minister needed an all-clear on all the counts in not just one but two corruption references that were being heard by the accountability court for about 15 months. The disqualification will go into effect following his release from jail after serving the seven-year sentence.

The verdict led to clashes between his supporters and the security forces guarding the court.

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