Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was found guilty of corruption by an Islamabad anticorruption court and sentenced in absentia to ten years in prison on Friday, July 6. Sharif's daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and her husband, Muhammad Safdar, were also convicted and sentenced to seven years and one year of prison, respectively. All have denied any wrongdoing and claim the case is politically motivated. On Saturday, July 7, Maryam Sharif stated that she and her father - both currently in London where Sharif's wife is receiving medical treatment - plan to return to Pakistan on July 13, where they will challenge the verdict.
Protests by Sharif supporters denouncing the conviction have been reported, including in Islamabad and Lahore; further demonstrations are to be anticipated in the coming days and weeks. A heavy police presence is to be expected surrounding all events.
Prime Minister Sharif was ousted in 2017 and barred from holding public office, after the 2015 Panama Papers leak led to a corruption probe into his family's wealth and found undeclared property abroad, notably in London. Friday's conviction comes only weeks before Pakistan is slated to hold general elections on July 25. Sharif's sidelining from politics leaves his Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party without a clear leader.
Individuals in Islamabad and other major cities are advised to exercise extreme caution and to avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings. Monitor the situation over the coming weeks and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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