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Ousted Pakistani PM Sharif, daughter arrested after arriving home

14 July 2018

Disgraced former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif's flight has just touched the ground in Lahore and Sharif and his daughter Maryam have been taken into custody by Pak Rangers and NAB officials.

Sharif reportedly refused to sit in the vehicle of the Rangers to get to the airport terminal.

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.

Sharif was ordered jailed after failing to explain how the family acquired the London flats in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies.

Furthermore, the flights that were to arrive at Islamabad airport this morning have been diverted to Lahore airport.

They will be held in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, where Captain Mohammad Safdar, Nawaz's son-in-law, is also imprisoned for corruption.

Both Mr Sharif and his daughter have denied the corruption charges and are returning to Pakistan to challenge the order.

Mobile phone service had been cut off in mid-afternoon, as Sharif's brother, Shehbaz, led around 10,000 party supporters on a march towards the city centre in defiance of a citywide ban on public gatherings, according to a Reuters witness.

To prevent PML-N workers staging a hero's welcome on the streets, authorities had said they would arrest the father and daughter upon landing and fly them to the capital Islamabad, local media reported.

"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 don't have a loyalty", the army spokesman said earlier this week.

The PML-N workers joined in the rally from different points in Lahore. They also used this time to send messages to their supporters, urging them to stand with ex-PM Sharif and "change the fate of the country". Maryam Sharif faces seven years in jail.

"The country is at a critical juncture right now", a grim looking Sharif said.

People of the country would reject corruption and looters, Mr Khan said adding, "I believe in dignity, honour and respect for votes and voters, but the nation has no respect for plunderers".

Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court previous year in the Panama Papers case.

Sharif has denounced the verdict as politically motivated. He remains popular, especially in Punjab, the most populous and electorally significant province.

PML-N Metropolitan president Sardar Naseem told Dawn the party had finalised its plan to lead a rally from its 6th Road elections office to Lahore, which will leave at 8a.m. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half of its 70-year history, has denied it has any "direct role" in the elections or the political process.

Underscoring the tensions gripping Pakistan in the run-up to the poll, a suicide bomber had killed more than 100 people at an election rally a few hours earlier, in the deadliest such attack in the country in more than three years.

Ousted Pakistani PM Sharif, daughter arrested after arriving home