Pakistan PM’s son returns from exile to face graft charges



ISLAMABAD — A son of Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif returned home Sunday after four years in London to face corruption charges that were filed against him in 2020.

Suleman Shahbaz reached Islamabad early Sunday and then took a flight to his hometown of Lahore after meeting with his father at the prime minister’s residence, said Ata Tarar, a spokesman for Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party.

Suleman Shahbaz’s lawyers obtained protective bail for him from the Islamabad High Court last week that will be in effect until Tuesday. It bars federal investigators from arresting him until then so that he can surrender before the trial court.

The Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore charged Sharif and his two sons, Hamza and Suleman, with corruption and money laundering in November 2020. Suleman had flown to London ahead of the 2018 general elections when the country’s main anti-graft body registered several cases against him.

Sharif and Hamza were acquitted of the charges by a court in October but Suleman was never tried after he moved to London. The FIA accused the three men of laundering 16.3 billion rupees (nearly $200 million) between 2008 and 2018.

In Pakistan, members of successive governments have targeted political opponents by filing legal cases against them, apparently to keep them entangled in court proceedings and away from the political arena.

Sharif, the brother of disgraced former premier Nawaz Sharif, was elected prime minister by Pakistan’s parliament earlier this year, following a week of political turmoil that led to Imran Khan’s ouster through a no- confidence motion in parliament.

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