Pakistan: Key Sharif party leader gets life term

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – A Pakistani court on Saturday sentenced a key member of jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party to life in prison.

Hanif Abbasi was convicted for misusing 500 kilograms of ephedrine, a medication and stimulant, which he ordered for his pharmaceutical company in 2010.

Abbasi, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party candidate from Rawalpindi, has also been disqualified from contesting the general election on July 25.

He was contesting against Sheikh Rashid, an ally of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by former cricket star Imran Khan, accused by rivals of having support of the "establishment" — a term coined to denote the powerful military.

Abbasi was arrested and sent to Adiala Jail, where Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are also serving prison sentences.

The case was registered against Abbasi in 2012.

PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif condemned the ruling.

“We condemn the mala fides behind the timing of this decision, which is politically motivated and seeks to undermine the election campaign of PML-N,” he tweeted.

Abbasi is the fourth PML-N leader disqualified and sentenced by the courts before the election.

Earlier on Saturday, a senior judge accused the country's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of manipulating judicial proceedings.

On July 6, a Pakistani court handed a 10-year jail term to Nawaz Sharif and imposed an 8-million-pound ($10.58-million) fine in a graft case linked to the illegal purchase of four luxury apartments in London in 1993.

His daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Safdar Awan were sentenced to seven years and one year in jail, respectively, and disqualified from contesting the election.

In late June, the top court disqualified former federal minister Daniyal Aziz from contesting the election in a contempt of court case.

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