LAHORE - A day after being convicted in Al-Azizia reference by an accountability court in Islamabad, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was shifted from Adiala Jail Rawalpindi to Kot Lakhpat Jail here amid tight security on Tuesday.

The former prime minister was brought to Lahore by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a special flight from Nur Khan Airbase.

A large number of PML-N workers also gathered outside Kot Lakhpat Jail to show their support for the former prime minister whereas strict security arrangements were made on the occasion.

Punjab government had approved provision of ‘better class’ jail facilities for Nawaz Sharif. The better class prisoners are provided with a mattress, a study table and chair in addition to a TV set and newspaper. He has also been allowed to have home food. The Jati Umra residence of the Sharifs located about 20km away from the prison.

The former premier was sentenced to seven years in jail and imposed fine on the charges of corruption in Al-Azizia Steel Mills case on Monday. The trial court, which had initially ordered imprisoning of Nawaz Sharif at Adiala, later on accepted plea of the convict for shifting him to Lahore on the ground that he was a heart patient and could have easy access to his physicians. The prosecution had opposed the application contending Adiala Jail had been notified by the federal government for imprisoning convicts of Islamabad courts. But the trial court accepted the plea saying the convict could make decision at his own discretion. The court ordered shifting him to Kot Lakhpat Jail. On the court direction, Nawaz was sent to Adiala Jail for a night and later he was flown to Lahore yesterday.

A large number of PML-N supporters and workers gathered outside Kot Lakhpat Jail to show their support for the former prime minister as he arrived there.

Upon reaching Adiala Jail, prison doctors carried out a medical examination of the PML-N leader and found him physically fit.

Tight security was put in place around the jail before the arrival of the former prime minister as Rangers were deployed at the police checkposts established on the route to the prison.

According to media reports, the PML-N supreme leader was shifted to a ‘better class’ barrack, which was prepared on Sunday night in line with the Adiala Jail’s high security barrack where he was kept after his conviction in the Avenfield property case on July 6, 2018, along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar.

However, a division bench of the Islamabad High Court later suspended the sentence of all three members of the Sharif family in Avenfield and they were released from jail on Sept 19 after spending 63 days in prison.

December 25 also marked Nawaz Sharif’s 69th birthday. The PML-N’s provincial secretariats celebrated birthday of the party quaid along with Christmas and of Quaid-i-Azam’s birthday.

The trial court Islamabad awarded Nawaz Sharif rigorous imprisonment of seven years along with a fine of Rs1.5 billion and $25 million in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills/Hill Metal Establishment reference. However, he was acquitted in the Flagship Investment reference.

Additionally, the accountability court barred him from holding public office for 10 years after completing the sentence, ordered confiscation of Hill Metal Establishment and issued perpetual warrants of arrest for his sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz.

Accountability Judge Arshad Malik said there was sufficient evidence that connected Sharif with the charges as “the accused has failed to discharge burden of proof, therefore, I convicted him under Section 9(a) (5) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999” in the Al-Azizia reference.

Lahore which is the political citadel of the PML-N, is likely to have a lively political activity by the party leadership after shifting of Nawaz Sharif to the same jail where his younger brother and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif is also serving judicial remand in an under investigation reference of the NAB.

On permission by the jail authorities, relatives and political leaders of the PML-N and others can meet Nawaz Sharif in jail on every Thursday.

It is learned from the PML-N sources, that appeal against conviction as well as another for seeking suspension of the sentence on medical ground, is being prepared by the Sharif lawyers and they are likely to be moved within next couple of days.

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Nawaz shifted to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail