The verdict in the high profile Avenfield reference against the Sharif family came out a few minutes ago.
As per the judgement, Nawaz Sharif has been handed a 10 year jail sentence while Maryam Nawaz has been disqualified from contesting elections. She has also been given a 7 year prison term. Her husband, Captain Safdar has been sentenced to 1 year imprisonment.
The Avenfield reference was filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the ousted Prime Minister, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan following the July 28 verdict in the Panamagate case that left Sharif disqualified for life. The reference also included the names of the former Premier’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, his son-in-law, Captain Safdar and his two sons, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz.
The reference focused on the purchase of four flats in London (Avenfield House, Park Lane) by the then ruling family. While the Sharifs maintain that they had acquired the property in Avenfield through legitimate means, they were unable to provide the resources through which they were able to make these hefty purchases.
Even before the verdict had come out, Pakistanis had been actively speculating the court’s outcome.
Nawaz Sharif, 7 Years Imprisonment
Maryam Nawaz, 5 Years Imprisonment
Captain Safdar, Ba Izzat Bari
Whats your say?
— Shafaat Ali (@iamshafaatali) July 6, 2018
Legal experts believe, Nawaz may face 10 years in jail and Maryam will be barred from contesting the general election, if she is convicted. Expectations are that Maryam and Safdar might face 7 and 4 years in jail. #AvenfieldReference
— Nadia Mirza (@nadia_a_mirza) July 6, 2018
A friendis in court and he’s confirmed Nawaz has been sentenced for 14 years. I hope it’s true. #AvenfieldReference
— Aqeel (@aqeelbutt397) July 6, 2018
However, now that the Avenfield verdict is out, reactions are pouring in by the second from both sides of the political divide in Pakistan.
Shortly, after the judgement was announced, #AvenfeldReference became a top Twitter trend globally.
A huge number of Pakistanis have come out in favour of the verdict.
End of shareef family. Its over for nawaz sharif, maryam nawaz. Its gonna be over for shahbaz sharif soon after the elections because he ain't winning nothing. Shareef family deleted from the Pakistani politics. Long live Pakistan 🇵🇰🇵🇰 #AvenfieldReference
— Ali (@hallowedchaos) July 6, 2018
Here we go..
Historical verdict against corruption and corrupt Mafia Family..
Nawaz Sharif: 10 years jail, 1.2 Arab Pak rupee fine.
Maryam 7 years Jail, 32 crore fine.
Safdar, 1 year jail
Long live Justice..
Pakistan zindabaaad…. #AvenfieldReference pic.twitter.com/uF6ZxjD6Kl
— محترم وقاص امجد (@Waqas_amjad) July 6, 2018
— Farrukh Shahzad Chauhan (@FarrukhFL) July 6, 2018
— iFti. (@FlyingDistroyer) July 6, 2018
That said, there is an equally significant number of bereaved citizens who feel that the Avenfield verdict failed their aspirations.
کیا پاکستان کی تاریخ میں آج تک پہلے کسی کو کوئی پبلک آفس رکھنے سے پہلے ہی ڈسکوالیفائی کیا گیا ہے ؟
مریم نے جو کہ جائداد وراثت سے پائی ہے اسکو کس قانون کی تحت سزا دی جا سکتی ہے؟
— Ahmad Waqass Goraya 🇦🇫 (@AWGoraya) July 6, 2018
While Pakistan remains divided on the verdict, there are many questions that come to mind.
The most important question is perhaps regarding the return of the sentenced leaders back to Pakistan. Unless Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his daughter decide to return to Pakistan, they will be unable to file an appeal in higher court. However, if they do return, handcuffs will certainly await their arrival at the airport.
The situation also makes us wonder how the judgment will impact the polls, which are now only a little over two weeks away. Will it propel PML-N supporters to come out in huge numbers to vote for the party or, as many believe, the verdict will wipe out the Sharif family as a political force altogether?
The next few 10 days will be critical and the upcoming general elections on 25 July will certainly be historical in many ways.