Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif have been arrested in Lahore. The father-daughter duo was returning to Pakistan from London for the first time after being convicted in the Avenfield property case.
Their passports have been confiscated. Sharif’s mother, along with hordes of party workers reached near the airport to greet them.
Sharif, 68, the chief of Pakistan’s leading party the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML- N) and Maryam made a stopover at the Abu Dhabi airport where their flight was delayed for nearly three hours.
They landed at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport at 9.10 pm IST via Etihad Airways flight EY243.
They will be escorted via helicopters to the Adiala prison in Rawalpindi, where they will be held for one day. They will then be imprisoned in Attock Fort Jail. The Pakistani government has left no stone unturned to ensure the arrest goes as smoothly as possible.
The Punjab government imposed Section 144 (unlawful assembly) in Lahore. Security was tightened across the city and roads leading up to the airport were blocked to prevent PML-N workers from reaching there. Around 10,000 security personnel were deployed throughout the city to maintain law and order. Jammers have been installed all over the city to prevent media coverage. Internet and mobile services were also suspended.
As clashes between the police and PML-N escalated, around 378 people were arrested and 5 policemen injured in incidents of stone pelting and shelling.
The government had forbidden Sharif’s family members from meeting him.
Meanwhile, PML-N workers started gathering at the Lohari gate in the afternoon, hoping to take out a peaceful procession to the airport. Around 8,000 people gathered to greet their leader in the city.
The Lahore deputy commissioner issued a statement saying that the rally was illegal and the party would be held responsible for any untoward incident. As reported by Pakistan daily Dawn, all party ticket holders in Lahore had been directed to join in the rally at different points along with the workers from their constituencies.
The police force also issued detention orders for senior PML-N leaders. Local media reports claimed that several important leaders had either been detained or placed under informal house arrest to prevent them from mobilising supporters ahead of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Sharif’s arrival.
Emotions ran high in the Pakistani populace at home and abroad as Sharif’s grandson was detained by the police for punching a demonstrator outside his house in London. Maryam’s tweet sharing a photo of Nawaz and his daughter bidding farewell to Nawaz’s ailing wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz in a hospital made people comment on the cruel nature of the sentence. Kulsoom had been in a month-long coma and opened her eyes just before her husband and daughter bid her adieu.
Nawaz and Maryam were named in the Panama Papers leak for owning property in London worth Rs 63 crore illegally. On July 28, 2017, the Pakistan Supreme pronounced him guilty and disqualified him from the post of prime minister. The father-daughter duo was convicted on charges of corruption for ten and eight years, respectively. Mohammad Safdar, Sharif’s son-in-law, has been granted one-year jail term as well.
Sharif continued to maintain that his return was for the welfare of the nation and democracy. In a video released online, he was heard saying, “I am coming back for the future generations of Pakistan. Mein karz chukane aa raha hun jo mujh par wajib hai.”
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