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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Nawaz Sharif, Maryam arrested in Pakistan, provided ‘B’ class facilities at Rawalpindi jail

Within minutes of touching down in Lahore, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, who are convicted for corruption, were arrested.

Written by Leela Murali | New Delhi | Updated: July 14, 2018 1:18:07 pm
nawaz sharif, maryam nawaz sharif arrested in Lahore, Pakistan for corruption ahead of July 15 general election Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam aboard a Lahore-bound flight on July 13, 2018. (Reuters/Drazen Gorgic)

Within minutes of touching down in Lahore on Friday, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, who are convicted for corruption, were arrested. Ahead of the country’s general election on July 25, Sharif said the arrest was a “very small price to pay” to save the sanctity of the vote in Pakistan, reported news agency Reuters. The duo was allowed to meet Begum Shamim Akhtar, Sharif’s mother, at the airport before boarding a special flight to the capital Islamabad to serve their sentence at Adiala jail, Rawalpindi.

On arriving at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport, scores of officials from the National Accountability Bureau, the country’s anti-graft body, entered the plane to arrest Sharif and Maryam, who surrendered without any resistance. In a video message posted hours before landing in Lahore, Sharif said he was aware of his impending arrest and was doing it for the country.

Follow LIVE UPDATES on Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz Sharif arrest in Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif, Maryam arrested on return to Pakistan, days ahead of general election Maryam Sharif tweeted this picture of her father with her comatose mother before leaving London for Pakistan.

“The country is at a critical juncture right now. I have done what I could. I am aware that I have been sentenced to 10 years (in prison) and I will be taken to a jail cell straight away. But I want Pakistani nationals to know that I am doing this for you,” he said in the video released by Maryam.

Sharif has returned to Pakistan in an effort to revitalise the party he founded, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, ahead of the election. Support for PML-N and Sharif has dwindled since Sharif was ousted as PM last July.

Also read | Why Nawaz Sharif may find it hard to bounce back

The two were provided “B” class facilities at Adiala jail, which is reserved for those who have been accustomed to a “superior mode of living”, reported PTI. Facilities include a cot, chair, teapot, lantern if there is no electricity, shelf and necessary washing and sanitary appliances. Those under this category reportedly give lessons to uneducated prisoners.

pakistan, nawaz sharif, nawaz sharif arrest, maryam nawaz sharif, pakistan bomb blast, pakistan news, indian express Police officers are deployed at Lahore airport in Pakistan, Friday, July 13, 2018 (AP Photo/KM Chaudary)

At least 70 injured in clashes in Lahore

As Sharif made his way to Lahore from London, where his wife Kulsoom is being treated for cancer, officials were cracking down on workers of the PML-N. At least 10,000 personnel were deployed across Lahore to prevent them from according Sharif a grand welcome back to the party.

Despite the heightened security and the imposition of Section 144 which bans public gatherings, Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif, led more than 10,000 workers towards the airport. At least 50 workers and 20 personnel were injured in clashes that ensued.

pakistan, nawaz sharif, nawaz sharif arrest, maryam nawaz sharif, pakistan bomb blast, pakistan news, indian express Supporters of Nawaz Sharif rally to receive their leader in Lahore on Friday, July 13, 2018. (AP/PTI)

The case against the Sharifs

Nawaz Sharif and Maryam were convicted by an Accountability Court on July 6 of illegitimately purchasing four luxury flats on Park Lane in the heart of London. The court sentenced Sharif to 10 years in jail and Maryam to seven in the Evenfield properties case. The case was first highlighted during the Panama Papers investigation when a trove of documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca was disclosed to reveal how the rich set up offshore entities in tax havens.

Also read | Opinion: Sharif’s conviction is not about corruption. It has to do with his questioning of the military

The duo is likely to appeal their convictions — in the Islamabad High Court and in the Supreme Court — and seek bail. The court, however, may prevent them from leaving the country.

Poll-related violence in Pakistan

In the third incident of election-related violence this week, a suicide attack Friday killed 128 people and left 150 wounded at an election rally in Baluchistan. The bombing, which the Islamic State claimed responsibility for, is the deadliest attack in the country in at least three years, reported PTI. Baluchistan provincial assembly candidate Siraj Raisani, who was among 1000 who were at the rally, was killed. He is the second candidate contesting the election to be killed.

Inputs from agencies

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