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Former Pakistani PM Sharif Appears Before Anticorruption Court


Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the press in Islamabad on September 26.

Pakistan’s former prime minister condemned an anticorruption court as he made his first appearance before the tribunal in Islamabad.

The case against Nawaz Sharif is the highest profile corruption prosecution in years in Pakistan, which has seen a handful of previous prime ministers investigated for corruption or other crimes.

Sharif's September 26 appearance in court was his first since he was disqualified by the Supreme Court in July following an investigation that found he had concealed financial assets.

The proceedings, which have captured widespread attention throughout the country, came a day after Sharif returned from London, where his wife is undergoing medical treatment.

Backers of Sharif chanted slogans inside the courtroom during his appearance. Sharif subsequently left, leaving his lawyers there to represent him.

At a news conference later, Sharif condemned the court’s actions, and suggested the country's powerful military and security agencies were behind his prosecution.

"For God sake, let the country run according to the constitution. If the constitution gives the right to its people to rule this country, so accept this right. Don’t target the elected leadership [of the people] under pretexts," he said.

"This is happening for the past 70 years," he said, referring to the period since Pakistan split from India in 1947.

The court also issued warrants for two of Sharif’s sons, a daughter, and a son-in-law, and ordered them to appear before the tribunal next week.

Sharif is expected to be indicted on October 2 in connection with three corruption cases filed against him by Pakistan's anticorruption body earlier this month.

The allegations against the three-time former prime minister and three of his children date back to one of his previous stints in power, in the 1990s.

His political adversaries accused Sharif and his family of laundering money from Pakistan and using the wealth to buy properties in London.

Known as a strong supporter of civilian rule, Sharif has a rough relationship with the military, and his supporters and some political commentators suggest the powerful military was behind his ouster.

His family says the London properties were acquired as a settlement for investments they made with Qatar’s royal family in the 1980s.

With reporting by AP and dpa
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