Pakistan warns ex-PM Sharif must return to face graft case

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani court on Tuesday warned the country’s ailing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return home by Sept. 10 to face a corruption hearing or risk being declared a fugitive from justice.

Sharif has been in London since authorities last November released him so he could travel and seek medical treatment abroad. At the time, the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore permitted Sharif to leave the country for four weeks, with the option to extend the time abroad if he was not able to travel afterward.

Sharif, 70, was sentenced to seven years for corruption and money laundering in 2018. He had served three times as prime minister but fell from grace after the Supreme Court ousted him from office over corruption allegations in 2017. He has had a history of heart-related diseases.

The conviction was suspended and he left for London in November on a specially equipped medical plane from Lahore. However, since arriving in London, he has spent most of his time at the family’s apartment there — drawing criticism at home and accusations that he allegedly had medical reports manipulated to show he was critically ill.

Tuesday’s warning came as a court in Islamabad considered Sharif’s request that he be exempt from personally appearing at the Sept. 10 hearing. The court said it wanted to give the former premier time to appear in court before declaring him a fugitive.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz insisted her father would return home only after recovering — or when his doctors permit him to travel. She said her father would not unnecessarily stay in London.

Sharif, who is facing several separate cases at home, claims he has been politically victimized. While in office, he had a bitter relationship with Pakistan’s powerful military establishment and did not complete any of his three five-year terms as prime minister.

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