Sharif, daughter return to Pakistan, face arrest on arrival

PML-N workers protest outside a police station

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Friday, reacting to the arrival of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, said that it is now necessary to bring back the looted wealth.

Sharif reportedly refused to sit in the vehicle of the Rangers to get to the airport terminal.

He has accused a covert military-judiciary alliance of trying to keep him out of politics and of undermining the integrity of his PML-N party.

Sharif was ordered jailed after failing to explain how the family acquired the London flats in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies. They were flown to Islamabad via special aircraft. 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.

To keep the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters away from the two, containers have also been installed at various points across Lahore.

Earlier in the day, Sharif, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court a year ago in the Panama Papers case, urged his followers to stand with him and "change the fate of the country" in a video message.

Internet and mobile services have been cut off in most parts of Lahore and will be suspended until midnight.

"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 PTI.

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Additional Deputy Commissioner Sara Hayat said the district administration had not received any orders to stop PML-N workers from going to Lahore.

Both Sharif, 68, and Maryam, 44, have been convicted by an accountability court for 10 and 7 years imprisonment respectively. In a video message, tweeted by Maryam Nawaz, the former leader urged his followers to stand with him and "change the fate of the country". He is being accompanied by his daughter Maryam, who was sentenced to seven years in prison.

"The country is at a critical juncture right now".

"What Pakistan has to do is follow China's example where they lift people out of poverty", Khan said in the interview in a private jet after a long night of campaigning in Punjab province.

Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court a year ago in the Panama Papers case.

The kind of reception Sharif receives on the streets of Lahore will be viewed carefully in Pakistan, where political popularity is often measured by the size of rallies that politicians can attract.

PML-N Metropolitan president Sardar Naseem told Dawn the party had finalised its plan to lead a rally from its 6th Road elections office to Lahore, which will leave at 8a.m. He also used the opportunity to again criticize Pakistan's powerful military, which has ruled the country directly or indirectly for most of its 71-year history, saying Pakistan now has a "state above the state".

It comes as Pakistan is in the midst of a hectic campaign for the general and provincial elections in two weeks' time which turned violent when 10 people were killed by a suicide bomber in south west Pakistan on Friday.

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