Sunday, July 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

14 yrs’ jail term for Nawaz
Barred from politics for 21 years

ATTOCK (Pakistan), July 22 (Reuters) — A Pakistani court today sentenced ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to 14 years’ hard labour after convicting him on corruption charges.

The special accountability court at Attock Fort, northwest of Islamabad, also fined Mr Sharif Rs 2 crore ($ 377,000) and barred him from politics for 21 years for failing to declare in his tax return the money used to buy a Russian helicopter for an election campaign. In case he does not pay the fine, Mr Sharif will undergo another three years’ imprisonment.

Mr Sharif’s close ally Saifur Rehman, co-accused and head of the defunct Ehtesab (accountability) Bureau, was set free by the court.

Mr Sharif has already appealed against two life terms he received in April when he was convicted of hijacking and terrorism charges related to the day of the coup when a passenger plane carrying Mr Musharraf was briefly forbidden from landing at Karachi on a flight from Sri Lanka.

Mr Sharif said the court judgement was a result of the military regime’s agenda to finish him politically.

“The two verdicts have been announced against me. I am the target of Gen Pervez Musharraf. All these laws have been made for me. Disqualification for 21 years was on their agenda”, Mr Sharif said after the court’s judgement.

Mr Nawaz Sharif’s party, the PML, today decided to challenge in the high court the accountability court judgement.

“We will challenge the judgement and hopefully the high court will do justice,” Raja Zafarul Haq, a central leader of the party, said.

Asked if the judgement would have any effect on Mr Sharif’s position as the party chief, he said Mr Sharif had been disqualified only from holding public office.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military regime has directed all commercial banks through a circular to seize accounts of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members, besides some others, a local news agency reported yesterday. The names mentioned in the circular include Mr Nawaz Sharif, his brother and deposed Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and their family members and former accountability Bureau chief Saifur Rehman.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has exonerated former Information Minister Mushahid Hussain of all charges after detailed investigations, media reports said in Islamabad. During comprehensive scanning of the records of the Information Ministry, nothing objectionable was detected against Hussain, the News daily reported today. Hussain had been under arrest since the military take-over but was not in the custody of the Bureau.

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