Nawaz, Maryam Sharif arrested in corruption case upon arrival in Pakistan

14 Juillet, 2018, 02:53 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • PML-N leaders addressing emergency press conference

Sharif's son-in-law is now serving his one-year prison sentence on the same charge, which stems from the purchase of luxury apartments in Britain that the court said were bought with illegally acquired money. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The younger Sharif has pledged to marshal a welcome for the former prime minister, saying thousands of supporters would travel to Lahore airport to back Nawaz.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Mushahid Hussain Syed on Friday said that the crackdown now underway on political workers in Lahore was being carried out to sabotage the election campaign of his party. Upon landing at the Islamabad airport, they will either be flown to Adiala Jail or driven to Attock Jail, Dawn newspaper reported.

On Friday morning, a bomb blast struck the convoy of Akram Khan Durrani, an ally of Sharif's PML-N from the religious Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal party (MMA) in the northern town of Bannu, killing four people.

'Why is Lahore under siege?

No one claimed responsibility, but the bombing came days after a suicide bomber dispatched by the Pakistani Taliban killed secular politician Haroon Ahmed Bilour and 20 others at his rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The country's media regulator warned local news channels to abstain from airing statements 'by political leadership containing defamatory and derogatory content targeting. judiciary and armed forces'.

Sharif is expected to be whisked away by helicopter to the federal capital of Islamabad when he returns to Pakistan from London to face a 10-year prison sentence for corruption. His daughter and likely political successor, Maryam, was given seven years.

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Sharif alleges the military is aiding a "judicial witch-hunt" against him and his PML-N party. The party's past five years in power has been punctuated by the civil-military discord that has plagued Pakistan since its inception.

The Sharifs had been visiting the United Kingdom capital of London, where Nawaz's wife Kulsoom is undergoing treatment for cancer, and had been unresponsive for several weeks, according to Maryam Nawaz. Ahead of his return, police swept through Lahore, arresting scores of Sharif's PML-N workers to prevent them from greeting him at the airport. The military denied the accusations, and said its assistance had been requested by Pakistan's election commission. The army will deploy 350,000 security personnel to polling stations on election day.

Sharif's return comes at a time of dwindling fortunes for his party, which one year ago was considered a runaway favourite to retain power. Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court past year in the Panama Papers case. Maryam was convicted for concealing ownership of the apartments. They both deny wrongdoing.

After the Supreme Court ousted Sharif as prime minister last July, the courts barred him from heading the party he founded.

On Friday, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif is expected to lead a rally to Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport to receive Nawaz and Maryam.

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

Despite the crackdown, PML-N backers continued to flock to the city, vowing to confront authorities if challenged.

More than 300 leaders and members of the PML-N have been detained in a widespread crackdown on the party's activists in Lahore ahead of Nawaz and Maryam's arrival, according to local media. Sections of the party oppose Sharif's combative approach against the army, and fear it will turn off voters in a deeply conservative and patriotic Muslim nation of 208 million people.

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