Back in Pakistan to face jail sentence, Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam shifted to Adiala jail
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Back in Pakistan to face jail sentence, Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam shifted to Adiala jail

Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam returned to Pakistan on Friday to face lengthy jail terms after a court convicted them in a corruption case.

world Updated: Jul 14, 2018 10:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Nawaz Sharif arrested,nawaz sharif daughters,maryam nawaz
Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam on the Lahore-bound flight at Abu Dhabi International Airport, UAE. on July 13, 2018. The duo were arrested on the flight in Lahore and taken to jail under tight security. (Reuters)

Ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were shifted to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on Friday after being arrested on their arrival in Lahore following the conviction in the Avenfield corruption case, weeks before the July 25 polls.

Sharif and Maryam were shifted to Adiala jail in separate armoured vehicles escorted by police, PTI reported.

According to jail manual, they can be medically examined at the jail hospital.

Maryam is expected to be moved later to Sihala Rest House which has been declared as sub-jail.

Initially it was said that the duo will be shifted by a helicopter, but the idea was dropped due to darkness.

After being detained within an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi by personnel from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Pakistan Rangers, Sharif and his daughter were put on a special flight to Islamabad in order to be moved to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. They arrived at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport at 9:15 IST, nearly three hours late from the scheduled arrival.

The accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir issued judicial warrants against Sharif and Maryam without their mandatory presence in the court.

NAB had requested the court to condone their presence due to security reasons.

The judge accepted the argument and deputed a local magistrate to visit the convicts to record their arrest and allow NAB to hand them over to the jail authorities.

The Etihad Airways flight EY243 arrived in Lahore from Abu Dhabi. Earlier, Sharif and Maryam flew to the UAE capital from London, where Sharif’s wife Kulsoom, suffering from throat cancer, is battling for her life.

Sharif reportedly refused to sit in the vehicle of the Rangers to get to the airport terminal. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials took their passport for immigration.

According to media reports, dozens of security officials entered the plane after it landed and asked other passengers to leave. The duo’s passports were seized by a three-member FIA team, and both were permitted to meet Begum Shamim Akhtar, Sharif’s mother, in the Haj Lounge.

Supporters of Sharif who accompanied him on the flight shouted slogans in his favour but were not allowed to disembark from the plane. The Pakistan Rangers encircled Sharif and his daughter and brought them out of the aircraft amid tight security. Other passengers were allowed to leave the aircraft only after their departure

Sharif and Maryam were convicted by an accountability, or anti-corruption, court in what has come to be known as the Avenfield Apartments case and given jail terms of 10 and seven years respectively. Sharif was found guilty of owning assets beyond his known sources of income and Maryam was convicted of aiding and abetting her father in covering up a “conspiracy”.

Both Sharif, 68, and Maryam, 44, have been sentenced by an accountability court to 10 and 7 years in prison respectively.

The Sharif family is now facing two more corruption cases in the accountability court — Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments — in which they are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.

Sharif and Maryam were later sent on a special private plane bound for Islamabad International Airport. Upon landing at the Islamabad airport, they will either be flown to Adiala Jail or driven to Attock Jail, Dawn newspaper reported.

Around 10,000 police officers have been deployed across the city to maintain law and order. The Punjab government has suspended mobile and internet services in Lahore.

Tens of thousands of supporters of Sharif, including some in a convoy led by his younger brother, former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, were unable to meet the leader as the Pakistan Rangers had taken control of the airport and sealed the building. A number of flights were delayed due to the operation. The PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) workers joined rallies despite a ban on public gatherings.

Apart from placing empty truck containers, the caretaker government of Punjab province blocked several key roads in Lahore and suspended mobile phone services as a security measure.

Local TV channels were not allowed to provide live coverage of Sharif’s return. Several journalists said on social media that they were prevented from airing interviews with Sharif or special programmes on his return.

Shehbaz Sharif, whose caravan had gathered at Lohari Gate, led the main welcoming rally to the airport. However, his convoy was unable to make it to the airport by the time Sharif’s flight landed.

Earlier, media reports and an official of the Civil Aviation Authority had said their plane was diverted to Islamabad to avoid any law and order situation in Lahore as a large number of the PML-N workers were heading in hundreds of vehicles to the city to cheer up their leader.

The rally kicked off at the Lohari Gate in the afternoon and could manage to proceed a few kilometers as party workers struggled to remove cargo containers on their way.

Supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) chant and march towards the airport to welcome ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, in Lahore, Pakistan, on Friday. (Reuters)

Close to the airport, Sharif’s supporters clashed with police which otherwise did not stop them from removing containers.

“It appears the Punjab caretaker government had reached a deal with the of PML-N withdrawing thousands of policemen to give a free hand to reach close to the Lahore airport and wind up the rally,” a senior police officer told PTI.

“We have orders from our top command not to take action against the PML-N rally participants,” he said.

The PML-N workers joined in the rally from different points in Lahore.

Talking to reporters before reaching the airport, Shahbaz said “a sea of people” has turned up today to give historic reception to Sharif.

“The people of Lahore has given a verdict ahead of July 25 polls,” he declared. “I am thankful to the people of Lahore for coming out in such a huge number,” he said, adding that the people have rejected the decision of the court to convict Sharif and Maryam.

“I know I have been handed a 10-year sentence and Maryam has been given seven years in jail, but we are returning because this country’s fate needs to change — we need to change it,” he said in a hastily arranged news conference that was conducted over phone as journalists were barred from meeting him at Abu Dhabi airport.

“The media also needs be brave and take a stand in the face of it all,” Sharif said, adding the media’s freedom is being curbed because “they see this nation has risen and the media is rising and they are afraid. Why else would they do all this?”

He added, “What is happening in this country today, what is happening in Lahore, raises questions regarding the elections. No other province is facing the situation we see in Lahore – hundreds of our party workers have been arrested, people are being pressured into switching loyalties. All of this raises a question mark on the credibility of the election.

“I am not afraid of being arrested. If I was, would I be coming back?...I am ready for it,” Sharif said.

The return of Sharif could shake up an election campaign marred by accusations that Pakistan’s military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favour of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jul 14, 2018 07:42 IST