Sharif loyalists arrested as former PM returns to appeal conviction
Sharif loyalists arrested as former PM returns to appeal conviction
Imran Khan addresses a public meeting in Bisham on Tuesday. — Dawn
13 July, 2018, 08:52
Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz arrived in London prior to Eid-ul-Fitr and are now there due to Kulsoom Nawaz's prolonged illness.
Sharif was sentenced to 11 years in prison for corrupt practices linked to his family's purchase of four posh London flats, in a major blow to his PML-Nawaz party ahead of general elections on July 25.
Maryam tweeted a picture of them from the airport lounge.
Security has been tightened and over 10,000 police officers have been deployed at Lahore airport where Sharif's plane from London is scheduled to land.
He was going to lead a motor rally with 30 vehicles to join the Sharifs' homecoming rally in Lahore.
Sharif, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court in 2017 in the Panama Papers case, is now the supremo of the PML-N.
The Punjab police have surrounded the house of PML-N leader and former minister Balighur Rehman in Bahawalpur.
"That is why he is willing to lose 10 years of his life over this".
At present, the former prime minister and his daughter are in London, where Sharif's wife Begum Kulsoom is undergoing treatment for cancer. They will not be allowed to roam around, said caretaker information minister Ali Zafar.
A police official who asked not to be identified said more than 100 PML-N workers had been detained.
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After almost a month-long stay, the PML-N supreme leader and his daughter began their journey to Pakistan from London's Heathrow Airport late on Thursday.
Khan has painted Sharif as a "criminal" who has looted the state for decades, and welcomes his prison term as overdue accountability.
"I'm coming to pay off the debt of the nation that thrice elected me the prime minister", he said.
The military, which has ruled the nuclear-armed country for nearly half its history and ended Sharif's second stint in power in 1999 in a bloodless coup, denies involvement. When he returned to power in 2013, he clashed with the military over how to deal with Islamist militants and his desire for friendlier relations with arch-foe India.
The opposition Pakistan People Party (PPP) has also alleged "pre-poll rigging" this week, but did not specifically name the armed forces. It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a "free and fair" elections, it added.
Sharif said that former dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who abrogated the constitution of Pakistan twice, remains at large and no one has the power to bring him back.
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.
Shehbaz Sharif and other senior leaders of the PML-N were visibly angry over the police crackdown on their party workers during a press conference held in Lahore on Thursday afternoon.
"Those putting me on the Exit Control List should know that I am coming back, there are those who said that I will not be coming back to Pakistan, some said I will be taking political asylum but all of them were wrong, I and Maryam are coming back".
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