Ex-PM Sharif and Daughter Arrested Upon Return to Pakistan

Hugh Fox
July 18, 2018

His second term was ended by a coup in 1999, and he was imprisoned by the military regime while he faced trial for multiple charges, including corruption.

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 FIR lodged with the Lohari police station accuses Shahbaz Sharif and other leaders of hurling stones at law enforcement agencies officials allegedly with an intention to kill them, Dawn reported. The military denied the accusations, and said its assistance had been requested by Pakistan's election commission.

Both were arrested Friday night upon their arrival in Lahore and were subsequently taken to Islamabad in a chartered flight. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Also, mobile and internet services were temporarily blocked.

It comes on the day Pakistan was rocked by a series of deadly bomb attacks targeting political figures ahead of a general election on July 25.

Sharif had stepped down as prime minister in July previous year after the apex court's ruling.

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"Why is Lahore under siege?" Khan's Tehrik-e-Insaf party also has high expectations of winning the vote and having him become the next prime minister.

Some 15,000 singing and dancing supporters lined the Mall, Lahore's main thoroughfare, ahead of Sharif's return from London, an AFP reporter there said.

Adding to the tension surrounding the upcoming poll, a suicide bomber hit an election rally of a regional party in southwestern Pakistan, killing 85 people.

It may be mentioned here that accountability court in its judgment on July 6, had sentenced Nawaz Sharif to 10 years imprisonment and fined £8 million while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years imprisonment with a £2 million.

Sharif's PML-N party, led by its President and Sharif's younger brother Shahbaz, today managed to take out a rally despite imposition of section 144 that bars assembly of more than five people. He also used the opportunity to again criticize Pakistan's powerful military, saying the country now has a "state above the state".

According to the Guardian, sympathy for Sharif has risen during the illness of his wife, Kulsoom, who is in a coma in a London hospital after treatment for throat cancer.

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Geo TV quoted sources saying that the authorities chose to keep the father-daughter duo at Adiala Jail for the time being.

However, the Muslim League Party is facing tough competition from the party of leading opposition candidate Imran Khan, a former cricket star.

The 2016 Panama Papers leak revealed Sharif's children had assets and owned companies that weren't detailed on a government-ordered disclosure statement.

Mr Sharif and his daughter's return a week after being convicted by an anti-corruption court in their absence is widely seen as an electoral gamble to try to reinvigorate the PML-N's fortunes.

Since then, a host of his allies have been either disqualified by the courts or face corruption cases.

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