Published: Sat, July 14, 2018

Ex-PM Sharif and Daughter Arrested Upon Return to Pakistan

Ex-PM Sharif and Daughter Arrested Upon Return to Pakistan

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team, awaiting the father-daughter duo at Allama Iqbal International Airport, arrested them after immigration process.

Thousands rallied in the eastern city of Lahore, Sharif's political heartland, to welcome him and his daughter back to the country, braving roadblocks and riot police.

Calling PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif as a "conman", the cricketer-turned-politician said that the PTI has been fighting against corruption in the country in the last 22 years.

Their return represents a high-stakes gamble, but could shake up an election race riven by accusations Pakistan's powerful military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favor of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan.

Khan has painted Sharif as a "criminal" who has looted the state for decades, and welcomes his prison term as overdue accountability. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Earlier, the ousted prime minister had released a video message ahead of his arrival in Pakistan, asking people to support him in his struggle which he said he is waging for the future of coming generations.

His return is seen as a public show of acquiescence meant to win sympathy from voters in an election that analysts predict could either spell the downfall of one of Pakistan's most charismatic leaders, or lead to years of civil unrest and political instability.

They will be held in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, where Captain Mohammad Safdar, Nawaz's son-in-law, is also imprisoned for corruption.

The provincial government had beefed up security ahead of Sharif's arrival in Lahore, and detained scores of protesters in their bid to deter massive gatherings near the airport, officials said.

Pakistan's third major political movement, the Pakistan Peoples Party, joined the criticism of the crackdown, with its prime ministerial candidate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari questioning why Sharif's supporters would be prevented from gathering.


"Why is Lahore under siege?"

Khan, who hopes to become the next prime minister, condemned Friday's attack.

The country's media regulator warned local news channels to abstain from airing statements "by political leadership containing defamatory and derogatory content targeting various state institutions specifically judiciary and armed forces", the regulator said in a statement.

Mr Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years while his daughter Maryam was given seven years after corruption charges.

"Nawaz really believes this is about democracy and his legacy", Musadik Malik, Sharif ally and former PML-N cabinet minister, told Reuters.

He said the election commission has requested that the army assist in organizing a "fair and free" election on July 25, and more than 370,000 troops are being deployed at polling stations around Pakistan to achieve the objective.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party has said it will mobilise supporters to greet his plane, but government officials have said he will be arrested as soon as he lands.

The Avenfield corruption case is among the multiple graft cases filed against the former Premier and his children by the anti-corruption body on the Supreme Court's directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict past year.

In a landmark verdict, the Sharifs were convicted by an anti-corruption court for not being able to prove a legitimate source for funds used to buy a set of upscale London apartments.

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