Pakistan's Supreme Court said it had launched an investigation into allegations made by a judge that the country's powerful army was manipulating the judiciary ahead of the July 25 national elections.
Jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ruling party has alleged prepoll rigging and accused the army of influencing the judiciary to deny it a second term.
Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges in absentia. He was arrested after returning to Pakistan on July 13 and has appealed his sentence.
Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui accused the army's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), of interfering in legal cases.
"The ISI is fully involved in trying to manipulate the judicial proceedings," Siddiqui said in a speech to lawyers on July 21, adding the agency had told the court not to release Sharif until after the elections.
Sharif has been a vocal critic of the army, which has an oversized role in Pakistan’s domestic and foreign affairs.
Sharif was dismissed from office by the Supreme Court in July 2017 for allegedly concealing assets abroad and other corruption allegations. He denies any wrongdoing.
Allies of the three-time prime minister, who was toppled in a military coup in 1999, have called the proceedings a political vendetta and suggested the army might be behind it.