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April 30, 2013 at 10:31 am #91536ParticipantParticipantasif65
April 30, 2013 at 1:03 pm #103840ParticipantParticipantasif65
Pakistan frees Sharif to exile in Saudi Arabia
Luke Harding South Asia correspondent
The Guardian, Monday 11 December 2000 00.52 GMT
The deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif began a new life in exile in Saudi Arabia last night after being released from prison by the military regime which toppled him from power.
He flew from Pakistan early yesterday after General Pervez Musharraf’s government unexpectedly announced that his life sentence had been commuted. He had been in jail since the military coup 14 months ago, convicted of kidnapping, hijacking and corruption.
He landed in Jeddah yesterday afternoon in a private jet belonging to the Saudi royal family. He was accompanied by 18 members of his family, including his wife Kulsoom, his three children and his elderly parents.
The party was immediately whisked off on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Mr Sharif was due to return to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for a medical check-up.
“Nawaz Sharif and family have been exiled to Saudi Arabia. The decision has been taken in the best interest of the country and the people of Pakistan,” the Pakistan government said in a statement.
Earlier it had said that Mr Sharif had requested permission to travel abroad for medical treatment. On Saturday he was granted a Saudi visa, causing rumours that his release was imminent.
As a condition of his exile, Mr Sharif has agreed not to take part in politics in Pakistan for 21 years. He has also forfeited property worth $8.3m (£5.7m) and agreed to pay a fine of $500,000. His brothers Abbas and Shahbaz, who were serving jail sentences for corruption, were also freed and allowed to leave.
Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League revealed yesterday that an unnamed member of the Saudi royal family had negotiated his release.
“This is purely a humanitarian gesture by the kingdom and has nothing to do with politics. Mr Sharif has pledged not to undertake any political activity while in Saudi Arabia,” a Saudi official said last night.
The deal is an ignominious end to Mr Sharif’s political career: he is the first former prime minister of Pakistan to be exiled. His predecessor Benazir Bhutto is living in self-imposed exile in London.
As the family left Islamabad yesterday, his wife said: “We are not running away in the darkness of night. We are being expelled from this country.”
She said her husband was suffering from a heart con dition and high blood pressure.
She added: “Pakistan will never be far from our hearts.We pray that our countrymen will be prosperous and whenever Nawaz Sharif’s health is better, we will come back.”
Mr Sharif was taken to the airport from the fort near Islamabad where he was serving his sentence. His deal with the government has dismayed many of his political allies, who only a week ago joined other parties in an alliance with the sole goal of ending military rule in Pakistan and restoring democracy. “Sharif will find it difficult to sell this to his supporters,” a party source said.
But it also raises questions for the increasingly unpopular military rulers. Gen Musharraf had launched a high-profile drive to punish those guilty of corruption.
“What does this say about our judicial system, that Nawaz Sharif, who was sentenced and in judicial custody, can be allowed to leave?” Farhatullah Babar, spokesman for Ms Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s party, said.
Pakistani intelligence sources said Mr Sharif, whose two terms in office were marked by corruption, had handed over at least two factories to the government.
His family assets are estimated to be worth several hundred million dollars.
By the time of the coup Mr Sharif had become Pakistan’s most powerful prime minister since independence in 1947, using his huge parliamentary majority to amend the constitution and increase his powers.April 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm #103841rohail taqi
Even Altaf may be more patriot than Sharif. Just saying not really sure
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