Pakistan court orders release of former PM jailed for corruption

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s party claims current premier has mounted a witch hunt against his opponents. (Reuters pic)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was granted bail on Tuesday after months in detention on graft charges.

Abbasi was one of several senior political figures arrested in a corruption crackdown overseen by the government of his successor, former World Cup cricketer Imran Khan.

Allies of Abbasi’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party claim the current premier has mounted a witch hunt against his opponents.

The Islamabad high court’s decision was “a victory of the righteous and a blow to the puppet regime,” party spokeswoman Marium Aurangzeb told AFP.

Abbasi was set to be released from custody on Wednesday.

His former interior minister and fellow PML-N heavyweight Ahsan Iqbal, detained on similar graft allegations, was also bailed by the court.

Corruption is deeply entrenched in Pakistan, and Khan was elected to replace Abbasi in 2018 after running a fiery campaign vowing to clean up the government.

Former leader Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari were both arrested for corruption last year but later released from prison.

Sharif has since relocated to London for medical treatment.

Since taking office, Khan has struggled to stabilise a sinking Pakistani economy hit by soaring inflation, a depreciating rupee and ballooning deficits, and has blamed the opposition’s mismanagement in power for the country’s mounting fiscal woes.