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Pakistan's Jailed Ex-PM Appeals 10-Year Sentence

Pakistani newspapers carry front page news of the arrest of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in Karachi on July 14.
Pakistani newspapers carry front page news of the arrest of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in Karachi on July 14.

Pakistan's jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has appealed his 10-year prison sentence, just days after returning to the country ahead of national elections on July 25.

Sharif and his daughter, Maryam, were sentenced on corruption charges in absentia on July 6. Both were arrested upon arriving in the eastern city of Lahore on July 13.

If the judge grants the appeal, Sharif could be released on bail pending his retrial.

Maryam Aurangzeb, a spokeswoman for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, said the appeal was filed on July 16 with the Islamabad High Court.

Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris Ahmad said in an appeal filed at the court that the "conviction and sentence are based on no evidence."

Sharif, ousted as prime minister by the Supreme Court for corruption last July, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison over purchases of luxury apartments in London.

His daughter was sentenced to seven years in a case stemming from the 2016 Panama Papers leaks.

Both were sentenced while in Britain, where Sharif's critically-ill wife is in hospital.

PML-N leaders have accused Pakistan's powerful military, which has an influential role in domestic and foreign affairs, of attempting to destabilize the party ahead of the elections.

Last week, the party alleged that authorities had detained hundreds of party members ahead of Sharif’s return.

The PML-N is still a leading contender in the July 25 vote, hoping to win a majority of the seats in parliament and form the next government.

But the ruling party is facing tough competition from the party of leading opposition candidate Imran Khan, a former cricket star.

The run-up to the vote has been marred by a string of election-related bombings that have killed at least 160 people, including a candidate during an election rally in southwestern Balochistan Province last week.

In the latest election-related violence, gunmen late on July 15 opened fire at the election headquarters of the secular Awami National Party in the town of Chaman in Balochistan, wounding former senator Daud Achakzai who was campaigning for Zumurak Khan, a contender for a seat in the provincial legislature.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and Dawn