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Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Nawaz Sharif: Was it a fair verdict?
Nawaz Sharif - deposed in a military coup last year - has been sent to prison for life on hijacking and terrorism charges.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
The judge also ruled that he should forfeit his property, and pay compensation to those on board the plane he attempted to stop landing in Karachi.
Mr Sharif escaped the death penalty, which the prosecution had demanded. But he faces spending the next 25 years in jail which would mean the end of his political career. His six co-defendants, including Mr Sharif's brother, were all acquitted.
Was it a fair verdict?
Tell us what you think.
Nadim Bakhshov, United Kingdom
I believe it was fair and the judiciary in Pakistan should show the same sort of expedition in other cases of the poor people as well so that the rightful ones get easy justice at their doorsteps.
A lesson to other corrupt politicians who have given the mandate to lead others. However, the civilised society should discourage the Generals to hijack the democratically elected governments.
Pakistan is a backward country because of corrupt, discriminatory, mental, anti-minority group
politicians like Sharif and Bhutto.
These politicians first think about themselves and not about the poor or needy.
Jawad Ahmed, Pakistan
Although the Trial may be put under a spotlight, I believe he deserved it. He tried to stop General's aircraft landing and a corrupt man. Pakistani people deserve honest people in administration not those who steal from the poor people.
Nawaz Sharif was not elected by 140million people as is suggested by a reader. The turnout for the elections was less than 20% when Nawaz Sharif wes elected. In any other democratic country the elections would have been nullified.
In a country that is struggling to create its niche and stronghold in the international community, I think the current government should be congratulated for its efforts, no matter how abysmal the result. At least there has been some "attempt" to convict the wrong doers. It is high time the Pakistani people get a decent government who are not embroiled in "revenge" on the previous governments etc and are more concerned about Pakistan's future, which ultimately should be given utmost importance.
Its useless to comment on the fairness of this trial as it was conducted as fairly as it should have been, not that the defendant deserved a fair trial. Sharif over the years has stayed in power robbed the people of Pakistan and of what they rightly owned
Rasheed Ahmed, USA
Justice was served. A man who played with the emotions of a nation was put behind bars. It gave credibility to justice in Pakistan. Criticism is uncalled for, for Pakistan. India is no better, a democracy in name and a playground for corruption in truth. Both are one and the same. It is just Pakistan's bad luck that we have not seen a sincere ruler for decades now.
I think Nawaz Sharif and all his teams of advisors should face trial for looting the country. Thanks to Musharraf that he has started nabbing corrupt politicians one after the other; trial was fair as Nawaz and his lawyers themselves indicated their confidence in the court. So why cry now? Just file appeal. Maybe you will get real sentence from a higher court.
The trial was a joke in the name of justice. Everybody knows Pakistan's judiciary is a puppet of its rulers no matter who rules country. It was a mockery that ATC decided the fate of Nawaz Sharif.
No questions, the trial was 100%
Arif Malik, USA
Pakistan is a primitive nation which is yet to understand the merits of Democracy. Between becoming a respected democracy like India or a medieval theocracy like Afghanistan, it is clearly choosing the latter. So the standards for judging the trial should be against the Taleban model. I think the trial was very fair by those standards. Nawaz Sharif was not stoned to death or his hands cut off for 'stealing' from the country.
How can the trail be "fair"? A lot of people seem to have forgotten the fact that Nawaz Sharif's main defence lawyer met an untimely death, and how convenient for the Musharaf Regime. Musharaf is as guilty as Sharif if not more. Under International Aviation Law, the definition of "HIJACKING" is the illegal control of an aviation vehicle by persons or groups who are on board the aircraft.
Rehan Ahmed, UK
This was a mock trial. There was not enough proof that this was a hijacking.
For the last 50 years or so the political parties in Pakistan are playing with the emotions of the people. This verdict will surely set an example for them.
Nawaz Sharif got what he deserved. It should be a lesson to the others. Pakistan army is a saviour. Now it should clean the house and bring back the democracy.
Najeeb Khan, Canada
Musharraf should be tried for hijacking the government. Trial would have been fair if all 7 would have been convicted.
The decision would be "fair" if the hijacking Sharif Brothers were also banned from re-entering into politics, and if Ms. Bhutto was also sentenced to serve a life sentence with Mr. Sharif. There were more than 200 death sentences in Texas last year. Why did Mr. Clinton not set them free?
It was not a fair trail. Pakistan must learn what democracy means. The history of Pakistan is a sad story. The army dictator needs to be punished for his crime to overthrow the elected government of the people. Pakistan will not get any respect from any one if the people do not get their act together. Mr. Sharif should be freed and the army ruler put behind bars for life.
Democracy is a by-product of several factors - all of which do not exist yet in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is not a democratically elected leader- he was a demagogue who used the spectre of democracy, like all his predecessors. The technicalities of the trial seem inconsequential given the inevitable verdict; this man deserves infinite life sentences for the amount of money he and his cronies have siphoned off from the treasury to fund their own international development projects.
Those worried about the fair trial of Nawaz Sharif have obviously forgotten the "constructive" steps he took for "strengthening" the same judicial system.
Do these people really believe that he cared about the judicial system during his tenure?
All I wanted to say is that whatever happened is good for Pakistan. After the verdict, Nawaz Sharif said that "There is no justice in Pakistan and that his case now rests with God." Well I just want to remind him that was there justice in Pakistan when he was the Prime Minister.
Gohar Latif, Pakistan
No, the trial was not fair. Mr Sharif was not given to speak. He acted responsibly not revealing Pakistan's secrets The judge was alone and under heavy pressure to give Mr Sharif punishment so that Army ruler can hide their shameful face. The general is so uncivilised and un-Islamic that he forced Six senior most judges of the supreme court including Chief Justice to go for early retirement if they did not favour the retired General.
Fair trial in Pakistan "I cannot say it was" but I do believe that Nawaz Sharif's Government was corrupt but all the blame cannot be put down on the Prime Minister. We must do something but corruption is in our blood and it is not possible to get rid of it by one man whether it is Nawaz Sharif or any of the Army Generals. Good luck Pakistan.
The sentence is probably fair but not for the charges concocted against him. Nawaz is guilty of not pushing the democracy in the direction that would empower the common people. He used the trust and the power for his personal agenda. Sadly that charge could be levelled against most leadership of Pakistan's history and that of many other developing countries.
Nawaz Sharif took power to his head and forgot that Pakistan is not his fiefdom, but a nation with an intelligent electorate and intolerance for injustice. Hence, when he totally disregarded the welfare of the passengers of a national airline, just to ensure for his person all benefit, that the Chief of army staff was surreptitiously removed, he lost the trust of the nation, the people and his right to be a Prime Minister.
The verdict reflects the mood of the public and the greater intolerance of the nation's electorate to allow corrupt and self-serving politician's to get away with it.
It would have been a fair trial if Nawaz Sharif got life sentence on corruption instead of this childish hijacking charges.
Azhar Malik MD, USA/Pakistan
The whole affair is fishy. How can there be justice, when the Parliament is suspended and the Judiciary has to swear an oath of allegiance to a military dictator? I believe the whole drama was played out to give legitimacy to the military dictatorship.
I hope the Pakistani people wake up from their stupor and take a look at the worsening situation in their country.
I believe these incidents are a lesson to any democratic country, particularly India, that subverting due process of moral and constitutional law, for any purpose is wrong and totally unjustified, and will only compound the errors committed.
No I don't think it was a fair trial he should be given a chance to prove himself
It is a 'Justified Verdict.' And Sharif deserves the same.
Hijackers should be punished whosoever they are!
Sharif's trial was probably not 100% fair. But he had to go, during his
political reign the economic life for ordinary Pakistani's was becoming more and more difficult
while Sharif and his cronies were seen to be getting richer and richer. Life may not be easier now
but at-least its not getting worse. The Military might be a dictatorship but they only replaced
a dictatorship masquerading as a democracy.
What is so new about what has happened in Pakistan. It
was an impending ritual which had to happen one day or
When everyone is equally bad, how does one choose the
best of the lot. There is no point in pondering over an issue
about a bunch of jokers taking their own decisions in the
name of justice and democracy.
Dave Adams, USA
The verdict was really political and not fair at all. Though Nawaz has been a shrewd politician this verdict was a biased one and unacceptable. The people who planned the coup should be punished instead.
Acquittal of co-accused proves that the Nawaz's rule was autocratic.
He was acting with absolute power just like a dictator without listening to others, not even to his close party members.
So it is logical that the court held him as the sole responsible for the hijacking.
The tenor of the letters here, the naive unanimity of opinion, the failure to distinguish between intuitive justice (viz. retribution) and due process, and above all the absence of a sense of history are appalling. Have you learned nothing from your own? Read Orwell's "Animal Farm."
Nawaz Sharif deserves life sentence. He has amassed wealth at the expense of his poor people and country. A person of enormous wealth, who never paid any tax in his life, speaks how degenerated the political system was in Pakistan. The military rule currently ruling Pakistan should hunt for all corrupt politicians and put them behind bars. Nawaz Sharif was a disgrace to democracy.
Sharif's competence as a leader is questionable. But the charges and conviction demonstrate beyond a doubt that Pakistani justice is non-existent. Here is a country that deserves to be shunned.
I think the trial was fair and the judgement is right, but the question is that what will happen next? He would be out of jail sooner or later, most probably sooner than we expect. Mr. Musharraf will not be there forever. Once he comes out of jail he will again be able to manipulate the innocent people of that country and shall one way or the other, be back in power.
The verdict is no surprise. History has shown over and over again that there is no fair trial under Dictatorship. To blame one person for all the ills of Pakistan is the travesty of Justice System.
Mohammed Farooq, England
The decision is more than fair when one considers that Nawaz Sharif never gave his political opponents the fairness that a fellow human being deserves. I daresay that if the roles were reversed, a death penalty would have ensued.
I don't care if it was a fair trial or not but I am happy that he got what he deserved and the others with him shouldn't have been acquitted of charges.
The verdict for Nawaz Sharif was fair, however the other co-accused should not have been let off the hook. Nawaz deserved this fate because of his own autocratic behaviour.
He and his family should be banned from elections for the rest of their natural life, since they are a bunch of greedy crooks.
Let's assume the man is corrupt as they come and conspired against the 'Chief' as he calls himself these days but trial and verdict by a 'Kangaroo Court' doesn't look good to the outside world even if the verdict was just and deserving of the person.
It was a unfair, in the sense that besides Sharif and other six member should have been punished.
The trial was toned down due to Clinton's visit to Pakistan. Pakistan needs strong and honest government for years to eliminate corruption in politics. I would love to see the same thing happening in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. If that happens, these south Asian countries will do much better than what they have done so far.
It didn't seem to be fair verdict, certainly influenced by government pressure. But who will sympathise for Mr. Sharif, who himself designed and established these anti-terrorist court structure, and who himself allowed an attack on building of Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The verdict was indeed fair; perhaps it could have been more severe, especially for the co-conspirators in the case. Sharif probably got a break from the judge.
Gen (Retd.) Musharraf followed the manual of Gen. Ziaul Huq to keep his rival at the bay. However, due to international pressure and domestic compulsions, he was not given death sentence. The judgement was ready even before the charge was framed. This is only possible in a country like Pakistan where the military has put it on the backward direction for many times.
Monirul Q. Mirza, Bangladesh/Canada
In this situation when Pakistan is facing internal and external problems, it is the best decision and it showed that courts have more free hand in a "blamed" army regime compared to so called "democracy" in Pakistan.
Pervez A Khan, USA
I should say it was not at all fair because I think that the judge is on Musharraf's side and this punishment is too much for him - it should be four or five years. He is the father of four children and he should not be kept away from them for such a long time.
I think the judge was trapped by the unconstitutional government of the army by presenting too many witnesses in the case. So the judge has to give this decision, otherwise the army is the culprit to break the constitution.
Those rulers should have been brought to book for their corruption instead of this very childish show put on by the present govt. and its "anti terrorist" court.
Syed Shaukat, USA
I don't think the trial was fair. It would have been better for the country if he had been tried and convicted on corruption charges rather than on a case based on personal animosity.
Nawas Sharif... a hijacker and a terrorist.....uggggh.
Too bad he was covicted on charges where he got international sympathy. He should have stood trial on crimes spreading over the period he ruled the country... and these were no small crimes.
Suspending an elected government, getting rid of impartial judges, and now this all to legitimise a dictatorship...where is Pakistan headed at?
Fair? Ever heard of
a fair trial under military rule...
with the parliament suspended
and judiciary fully controlled?????
I am glad that it is life sentence and not death sentence. There is hope that once democracy returns somebody will decide it is not necessary to keep Sharif locked up. It is a lesson to heads of states who want to accumulate more power and can't figure out the right way to do it.
This was not a fair trial. The verdict was engineered to out through an elected prime minister and to divert the attention of people from the fact the military has overthrown the democratically elected government. The events mentioned in the trial were seriously unfair. It was basically a terrible effort by the illegitimate military government discrediting Pakistani people by convicting prime minister a "terrorist" and a "hijacker".
I think the trial went OK but acquitting the accomplices was a bad decision and I think they should also have been given some kind of punishment since they all were present at the time of this conspiracy.
Fair as can be in a country riddled with power corruption and lies.
Simon Cameron, UK
I think the decision is okay and Nawaz Sharif got what he deserved. It also indicates courts in Pakistan are free in their decisions even though there is a military government.
It just proves that Pakistan needs a lesson on how a democracy works.
If it was a conspiracy how come only Mr Sharif has been sentenced while the others walk away?
Salem Abuzaid, USA
Too bad Nawaz Sharif's six co-defendants were acquitted. I guess it was not a fair trial after all.
The case is of equital and the prosecution has really failed to prove beyond any doubt, which is the prerequisite for the conviction in criminal cases, that Nawaz Sharif has committed the offence of hijacking. The delay in the FIR, the statement of witnesses, the absence of General Musharaf as witness in the case especially when he is said to be the key person on board against whom the conspiracy was prepared, leads us to the conclusion that there is malafide of government in this case and everything was pre-planned and pre-determined. Therefore, I think Nawaz Sharif should be in equitted in this case and this shall happen if the High Court give a fair chance of Appeal to Nawaz Sharif.
No, because Musharraf had a lot of foreign pressure on him to go easy on Nawaz Sharif, and economy wise Pakistan can not afford that.
He should also stand trial for looting the economy, which I consider as the most important thing of all.
Farooq Qureshi, Canada
I think Nawaz Sharif is a very simple man.
He believed in the judge and the judicial
proceedings up to the last minute. While any
idiot could have thought like him, his senior
lawyer Ejaz Batalwi was really very clever to
withdraw from the case as he knew the
direction of the court.
It was just a pre-planned decision imposed on the
Judge to deliver today by the Military Ruler.
There was no other way for the military.
In Pakistan, the judiciary has traditionally towed the line of the rulers, especially military. So, Thursday's verdict is no surprise. Had the international climate been conducive, the judge might have announced a death sentence for Mr Sharif, as had happened in Mr Bhutto's case. Every leader makes mistakes. So did Mr Sharif. But making him a 'terrorist' and a 'hijacker' is going too far.
06 Apr 00 | South Asia
Life sentence for Sharif
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