A timeline of Nawaz Sharif’s journey from conviction to home-coming

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October 21, 2023



After a self-imposed exile spanning four years in London, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is poised to make his return to Pakistan on October 21, accompanied by a warm welcome from his political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Nawaz Sharif, who has served as the country’s prime minister on three occasions, last held office following his triumph in the 2013 general election. However, his tenure was marred by a series of tumultuous events, including a lengthy opposition-led blockade of Islamabad and his subsequent disqualification by the Supreme Court in 2017. This disqualification was due to his failure to withdraw a salary from his son’s company.

Below is a timeline of key events, spanning his conviction in the Avenfield case, departure from the country, and anticipated return to Pakistan:

  • July 6, 2018: Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to a 10-year prison term and fined £8 million (Rs1.3 billion) upon being convicted in the Avenfield reference. The former prime minister received this conviction in absentia while he was in London, tending to his ailing wife.
  • July 13, 2018: Nawaz and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, who is now the PML-N’s Vice President and Chief Organiser, were arrested upon their return to Lahore from London.
  • July 16, 2018: The Sharif family filed appeals in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in an attempt to overturn the Avenfield verdict.
  • September 19, 2018: The IHC provided significant relief to the Sharif family, ordering the temporary suspension of their sentences in the graft case and facilitating the release of Nawaz, Maryam, and Captain Muhammad Safdar.
  • December 24, 2018: Nawaz received another blow as a NAB court imposed a seven-year prison sentence and a fine of Rs1.5 billion in the Al-Azizia sugar mills reference. He was arrested in the courtroom, and the verdict led to his disqualification from holding public office for 10 years.
  • January 1, 2019: Nawaz Sharif challenged the Al-Azizia case verdict in the IHC.
  • October 25, 2019: While serving his sentence in the Al-Azizia case, Nawaz was diagnosed with an immune system disorder, and doctors recommended foreign medical treatment.
  • October 26, 2019: On medical grounds, Nawaz was granted interim bail in the sugar mills reference.
  • October 29, 2019: The IHC extended Nawaz’s bail for eight weeks in the Al-Azizia case due to his deteriorating health.
  • November 8, 2019: Shehbaz Sharif requested the Interior Ministry to remove Nawaz’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL) for medical treatment abroad.
  • November 13, 2019: The government allowed Nawaz a “one-time” permission to travel abroad for four weeks of medical treatment, contingent on the Sharif family submitting an indemnity bond.
  • November 16, 2019: The Lahore High Court (LHC) ruled in favor of the PML-N, permitting Nawaz to travel abroad for four weeks without imposing additional conditions.
  • November 19, 2019: Nawaz left for London from Lahore in an air ambulance.
  • September 1, 2020: The IHC ordered Nawaz to surrender and appear in court, as his bail had lapsed on February 27.
  • September 15, 2020: Non-bailable arrest warrants were issued for Nawaz due to his failure to comply with the court’s orders.
  • December 2, 2020: Nawaz was declared a “proclaimed offender” in both cases for not returning to Pakistan and appearing before the court despite multiple notices, arrest warrants, and advertisements.
  • February 1, 2022: A medical report advised against Nawaz’s travel, marking the last time, until this month, when an extension for his stay abroad was sought.
  • September 12, 2023: Shehbaz Sharif announced October 21 as the date for Nawaz’s return to lead the party’s political campaign as the country prepared for the next general elections.
  • October 6, 2023: A recent medical report indicated that Nawaz required continuous monitoring due to lingering cardiac disease symptoms.
  • October 19, 2023: Nawaz obtained protective bail in two graft cases, and an accountability court suspended his arrest warrant in the Toshakhana case, clearing the legal path for his smooth return to Pakistan.
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