Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister of Pakistan for four years. This was his third stint as premier. Sharif was once the blue-eyed boy of the army but down the line relations with the Military deteriorated, and it was on the cards that the army which has ruled Pakistan for decades would hit back. Sharif has now been tried by the Anti-corruption court in Pakistan and sentenced to a prison term of 7 years. He was charged for his alleged role in setting up a steel mill in Saudi Arabia. He was acquited of another charge of buying luxury apartments in London.

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Earlier Sharif had been sentenced to 10 years in jail and his daughter Mariam to 7 years on another corruption charge. Yahoo News has reported that Sharif feels the charges are politically motivated and he has done no wrong.

Sharif's supporters have protested, and hundreds have camped outside the court. This sentence will add more fuel to the fire in Pakistan which is already facing terrorist activity like in 2017 when 26 policemen were killed in Lahore.

Sharif and army

Sharif may shout from the rooftops about his innocence, but the wheels in Pakistan turn the way the army wants.

There is enough evidence to show that the army planned the entire sequence of events to help Imran Khan get the coveted Prime Ministers chair. In hindsight, Sharif's calculated move to come back to Pakistan from London was a blunder. He had not bargained for the fact that the army would engineer an election victory for Imran Khan. At the crucial period of the elections, Sharif and his daughter were sent to prison, and the Pakistan Muslim League (Sharif's party) was headless, and the cadre demoralized, resulting in a victory for Imran's party.

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Sharif will appeal

Sharif has said he will appeal against the verdict, but the chances of that appeal succeeding are remote, till Sharif either agrees to go into exile or toes the line of the army. In any case with the prison terms slapped on Sharif, there does not at the moment appear to be any chance that he will be allowed to remain free. The Times of India has reported that three corruption cases were filed against Nawaz Sharif after revelations appeared against him from the Panama papers.

Pakistan

Pakistan has the dubious distinction of sending its prime ministers to jail and even death.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged for the murder of a political opponent on flimsy evidence in 1979. Nawaz Sharif was himself sent to life in prison on charges of treason in 1999 when the army chief General Musharraf staged a coup against him.

Sharif was bailed out by Saudi Arabia which supported him, and he agreed to go into exile. He will be hoping that this time again Saudi Arabia will help him. If that does not happen, Sharif has a long and difficult time ahead.