Pakistan court remands opposition leader to custody on graft charges




FILE PHOTO: Maryam Nawaz, speaks during a news conference in Lahore,
FILE PHOTO: Maryam Nawaz, speaks during a news conference in Lahore,  

By Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE (Reuters) - Some supporters of Pakistan's largest opposition party threw punches on Friday in clashes with police as a top leader, Maryam Nawaz, was remanded to custody on corruption charges filed by a national anti-graft agency.

Maryam, daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and a scion of the family that dominated politics for three decades, was arrested over fraud accusations at a sugar mill her family runs, one of several cases it says are politically motivated.

"I knew that it would be a tough situation for me to launch a political struggle but I will not budge," Maryam told reporters shortly before she appeared in court in the city of Lahore, to be denied bail and remanded until August 21.

"The NAB has made a baseless case against me," she added, referring to Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau.

The anti-graft agency has arrested, or wants to arrest, about a dozen members of the Sharif family, which runs the largest opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Some of the hundreds of party supporters gathered outside the court engaged in fistfights with police, according to eyewitnesses and video images. Police declined to comment on the extent of the clashes.

Maryam is one of the few opposition figures to openly criticize Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan's powerful military, accusing them in recent weeks of censoring rallies and news conferences held by her party.

Maryam, who led big anti-government rallies across the country, disappeared from Pakistani media last month after she made public a secretly recorded video.

The video purported to show her father's graft conviction had been the result of blackmail. Reuters was not independently able to confirm the authenticity of the video.

Khan and the military deny any media ban on the party or that the cases against the family are politically motivated.


(Reporting by Mubasher Bukari in Lahore; Writing by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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