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Pakistan readies to arrest Nawaz, brother on arrival

world Updated: Sep 08, 2007 13:53 IST

The Pakistani government is readying to arrest former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz when they return home from exile Monday and could even divert their aircraft to another city to prevent them from landing here.

"The government (is) still in the process of working out a plan to manage the crowd expected at Islamabad airport to greet them (Sharifs), which might get out of control on hearing the news of (their) arrest," Dawn reported Saturday, quoting sources.

The Sharif brothers would be arrested for their alleged involvement in three corruption cases filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), it added.

The judge of an accountability court in Rawalpindi agreed on Friday that the NAB chairman had the authority to issue arrest warrants for the Sharifs when they arrived in Pakistan. The court made the observation when NAB counsel stated that under Section 24-C of the NAB Ordinance its chairman had the authority to issue arrest warrants even against an under-trial accused.

"The chairman NAB shall have the powers, at any stage of the inquiry or investigation under this ordinance, to direct that the accused, if not already arrested, shall be arrested," the ordinance says.

Government sources said arrest warrants for the Sharif brothers were likely to be issued on Monday.

They also indicated that the government had prepared a plan under which the aircraft carrying the Sharif brothers might be diverted to Lahore or any other airport on security grounds.

They said stringent security measures would be in place in Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday, with the authorities planning to block all roads and highways leading to Islamabad from Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province to stop Sharifs' supporters from reaching the twin cities.