Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a corruption court in Islamabad on Friday, lawyers said, dealing a serious blow to his party's troubled campaign ahead of July 25 elections.
Small protests quickly broke out after the verdict at the court in Islamabad, which was surrounded by heavy security, and in some other cities including Multan in Punjab, the Sharif dynasty's provincial stronghold.
“We reject this decision,” PML-N president and Nawaz's brother Shahbaz Sharif told a televised press conference in Lahore shortly after the verdict.
“It is based on injustices. This decision will be written in black words in history,” he said.
Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan for his part greeted news of the verdict with jubilation at a campaign rally in the Swat valley.
“Today all Pakistanis must offer thanksgiving prayers because today is the beginning of a new Pakistan. Now robbers will not go into assemblies, but to jails,” he told a roaring crowd of thousands.