Islamabad, July 7: After being sentenced to 10 years in prison, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif announced that he is not a thief and will soon be returning to Pakistan to face prison. He said that he’s being punished because he tried to turn the course of the country’s 70-year history. Also Read - Pakistan Claims it Asked India to Appoint Counsel For Kulbhushan Jadhav

Sharif, along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz — who was also handed seven-year prison time — held a press conference in London hours after the verdict in the Avenfield corruption reference was announced. The former Pakistan PM said that if the punishment for “demanding respect for the vote is jail, I am coming to face it”. Also Read - 'Abrogation of Article 370 India's Internal Matter, Other Nations Have no Business,' Says Venkaiah Naidu

“I promise that I will continue this struggle until Pakistanis are not free of the chains that they are kept in for saying the truth,” Nawaz Sharif said, adding, “…not be a slave to those who violate their oath and the Constitution of Pakistan”. Sharif, however, didn’t announce the exact time and date when he will be returning to Pakistan. Also Read - Such Comments Are Deeply Regrettable: MEA on Pakistan's Reaction to Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan

He further added that deteriorating health of his wife, who is undergoing cancer treatment in London, is the reason for him not being able to return immediately. “No pleas filed by me in court were approved, most of them were rejected, this is unfortunate because that doesn’t happen in most cases,” he said.

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Nawaz Sharif was on Friday sentenced to 10 years in prison while his daughter Maryam Nawaz was handed a seven-year jail over graft charges in the purchase of overseas properties. The verdict was delivered by the accountability court in the Avenfield corruption case, which is related to the Sharif family’s ownership of four flats in the posh Avenfield House in London.

Sharif, a three-time Premier, was earlier disqualified from standing for his PML-N following conviction in corruption cases. His brother Shahbaz Sharif now heads the party and is running in the July vote.

On July 25, Nawaz Sharif resigned as the Prime Minister of Pakistan after the country’s Supreme Court disqualified him from office over Panama Papers case, clipping his third stint in power. Sharif was disqualified after an investigative panel alleged that Sharif and his family have been involved in money laundering to buy assets in London in 1990s and could not account for their vast wealth.

With IANS inputs