Hours after a Pakistani court convicted Nawaz Sharif and his daughter of corruption on Friday, the former premier said in London he will return to the country and face prison as soon as he is able to have a word with his wife who is on a ventilator, The Hindustan Times reports.
An anticorruption court sentenced Sharif to 10 years in prison and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to seven years. Addressing a news conference in London, where his wife Kulsoom Nawaz is being treated for cancer and is currently in a coma, Sharif did not give a time-frame for his return.
Asked about this, Sharif mentioned the critical condition of his wife as the reason for not being able to return immediately. He said he would return “as soon as she recovers consciousness and I can speak to her”.
“If the price of stopping the theft of the vote is chains, handcuffs and jail, I am coming back to pay this price. I am coming back to join you to stop those those who are stealing your vote, your independence and your prosperity,” he said.
“Achieve your goal with your vote on July 25 and target those who set aside your decisions through conspiracies and fraud,” he added, referring to the upcoming general elections.
“I will continue my struggle till the people of Pakistan are not freed of the slavery imposed on them by some generals and judges,” he further said, flanked by his daughter Maryam.
“I will stand with the masses and stop those who are creating impediments in the way of the votes,” he said, adding he had been punished because he tried to turn the course of Pakistan’s 70-year history.
“I promise I will continue this struggle until Pakistanis are not free of the chains that they are kept in for speaking the truth,” he added.
In an apparent reference to military dictators, Sharif said he wished those who violated the Constitution and laws were punished as speedily as the anti-graft court concluded the case against him.
Sharif also said he hadn’t yet read the verdict but it reportedly stated that the prosecution couldn’t prove any allegation of corruption, and this was a “matter of pride for me”.
He said he would continue his political struggle from behind bars if necessary, and urged the people to “break the chains by exercising their right to vote on July 25”.
Earlier, while reacting to the verdict, Maryam said it was not a big punishment for “standing up to the invisible forces” who controlled the country for the past 70 years.
Meanwhile, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has completed arrangements to arrest Sharif and Maryam at Lahore airport, should they return. According to the NAB, the arrests will be made after obtaining warrants from the anti-corruption court in Islamabad in line with the law and the court’s verdict.
NAB officials told the local media Maryam’s husband Muhammad Safdar, who is in Pakistan, will be arrested on Monday after his warrant is obtained.