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Iran Press TV

Ex-PM Sharif's daughter arrested in Pakistan's graft probe

Iran Press TV

Thu Aug 8, 2019 04:37PM

Pakistan's anti-corruption authorities have detained opposition leader and daughter of former Pakistani Prime Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

She was arrested with her cousin, Yousaf Abbas, while attempting to visit her father at a jail in Lahore, where he is being held after being convicted of graft.

The case relates to a sugar mill owned by the family, which has dominated the country's politics for three decades.

"Maryam and Abbas have been arrested in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case," media outlets quoted Azma Bukhari, a spokeswoman for her Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, as saying on Thursday.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the federal anti-corruption force, confirmed the arrests.

"They have been arrested but where they will be kept will be decided by our headquarters in Islamabad," a spokesman for the NAB in the eastern city of Lahore said.

Maryam is the latest member of Sharif's family to be targeted under the administration of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who swept to victory last year.

Her father, who served as prime minister three times, was sentenced to seven years in jail for corruption in 2018. Her uncle, former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, has also faced probe, along with other relatives.

Maryam's detention sparked a walkout by opposition lawmakers at the country's parliament in Islamabad on Thursday.

"Today in this new Pakistan, Miss Maryam Nawaz has been arrested without any conviction so I am walking out of this house," announced Bilawal Bhutto, chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), during an address to parliament.

The latest developments come just a day after authorities took former finance minister and Sharif family loyalist Miftah Ismail into custody on graft charges.

Last month, former prime minister Shadhid Khaqan Abbasi and former president Asif Ali Zardari were also arrested.

Maryam has been one of the few opposition figures to openly criticize Khan's administration and Pakistan's powerful military, accusing them in recent weeks of censoring rallies and press conferences held by her party.

Khan and the military deny any blackout of the party or that the cases against the family are politically motivated.

Corruption is widely entrenched in Pakistan, with politicians regularly accused of stealing public funds and whisking the money out of the country.

Khan was elected after running a fiery campaign against graft, but has also been accused of persecuting his political opponents rather than launching wide-ranging reforms.

Since taking office, Khan has struggled to stabilize Pakistan's sinking economy beset by soaring inflation, a depreciating rupee, and ballooning deficits.

The premier now faces the difficult task of confronting arch-rival India, after New Dehli unilaterally revoked Kashmir's special status earlier this week.

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