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Nawaz Sharif, Maryam lands in Lahore to rally party, face prison

REUTERS, PTI
Published : Jul 13, 2018, 9:53 pm IST
Updated : Jul 13, 2018, 10:21 pm IST

'A team of NAB is present at the Lahore airport and arrest convicted Nawaz, Maryam from there, NAB spokesman said.

Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam returned to Lahore from London following their conviction in a corruption case. (Photo: File/Twitter)
 Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam returned to Lahore from London following their conviction in a corruption case. (Photo: File/Twitter)

Lahore: Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam returned to the country on Friday to face lengthy prison sentences in a high-stakes gamble to galvanise their beleaguered party ahead of a July 25 election.

The flight carrying the Sharifs landed in the central city of Lahore just before 9 pm (1600 GMT) as security forces were stationed around the city to prevent mass demonstrations by their political supporters.

"A team of NAB is present at the Lahore airport and arrest the convicted Nawaz and Maryam from there," a spokesman of NAB, Nawzish Asim, told news agency PTI.

A helicopter is present at the airport to take them to Islamabad from there they will be sent to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after producing them to the accountability court.

Sharif and his daughter Maryam returned to Lahore from London following their conviction in a corruption case.

Ahead of their arrival in Lahore, security was tightened and all roads leading to Punjab's capital city have been blocked using shipping containers to prevent PML-N supporters to reach there.

Around 10,000 police officers have been deployed across the city to maintain law and order and prevent PML-N supporters to reach the Lahore airport to greet Sharif, who was convicted by an anti-corruption court last week over his family's ownership of four luxury flats in London.

The Punjab government has suspended mobile and internet services in Lahore. Director General of the country's anti-graft body - the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) -- Shehzad Saleem said that both convicts will be arrested as soon as they come out of the plane and taken to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

Read: Ahead of Pak arrival, Nawaz Sharif questions Lahore crackdown

The Punjab government has suspended mobile and internet services in Lahore. Director General of the country's anti-graft body - the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) -- Shehzad Saleem said that both convicts will be arrested as soon as they come out of the plane and taken to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

Earlier, in a video message, tweeted by 44-year-old Maryam, the former premier urged his followers to stand with him and "change the fate of the country".

Also Read: Nawaz Sharif, Maryam may be held mid-air; Lahore shuts phone networks

Sharif said that "draconian crackdown" on his supporters by the Punjab government shows that the authorities are scared of his appeal and are desperate to stop tens of thousands of people from reaching Lahore airport to welcome him and his daughter. Maryam also posted some moving pictures of their visit to the hospital to see her ailing mother Kulsoom, who is on ventilator.

Also Read: Daughter Maryam shares emotional photo of Nawaz Sharif with ailing wife; goes viral

The two PML-N leaders are returning to Pakistan to face a prison sentence handed out on July 6 by an accountability court in the Avenfield properties case, one of the three corruption cases against him following the Panama Papers scandal. Sharif and Maryam have been sentenced to 10 and 7 years in jail respectively.

Sharif, who was in London with his wife and children when the verdict was announced, said he is returning to Pakistan from London to fulfil his pledge to "honour the vote".

Over 300 PML-N workers and leaders have been detained in Pakistan in a massive crackdown on the party activists in Lahore ahead of the arrival of Sharif.

Sharif, has been one of the country's leading politicians for most of the past 30 years. He remains popular, especially in Punjab, the most populous and electorally significant province. He and his party have accused the military of being behind his conviction, saying it is going after the PML-N for its criticism of the security establishment.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half of its 70-year history, has denied it has any "direct role" in the elections or the political process.

Tags: nawaz sharif, maryam nawaz, pakistan general elections, pml-n, tehreek-e-insaf
Location: Pakistan, Punjab, Lahore