Lahore, Jul 14: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were arrested on Friday night on their return to the country after they were convicted in a corruption case, less than two weeks before the country goes to polls.
Following the arrest, the authorities seized the passports of the former PM and his daughter. The two were being flown to Islamabad, where heavy security was deployed, to be imprisoned at the Rawalpindi Central Jail.
Earlier, it was reported that the flight carrying Nawaz and his daughter may be diverted to Islamabad due to security reasons, in view of the protests carried out by PML-N supporters in Lahore.
There are reports of clashes between supporters of Sharif and police in Lahore and several other cities.
The plane carrying Sharif and Maryam landed at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport at 9:15 IST, nearly three hours late from the scheduled arrival.
The Etihad Airways flight EY243 arrived here from Abu Dhabi. Earlier they flew to the UAE capital from London, where Sharif’s ailing wife Kulsoom is battling for her life.
Officials from Pakistan’s anti-graft body, who were present at the airport, took them into custody as they came out of the plane.
In a video message, tweeted by 44-year-old Maryam, the former premier urged his followers to stand with him and “change the fate of the country”.
“The country is at a critical juncture right now,” a grim looking Sharif said.
“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 the Pakistani nationals to know that I am doing this for you,” he said.
“This was neither a case, nor there is a verdict. This is a game of blind revenge, which is continuing. There is no case against me, there never was. The whole Panama case was started to fix politics and to keep me out because I wanted a stronger democracy,” he told The Nation newspaper before his departure from London.
The three-time Prime Minister was ousted from office last year after a corruption investigation.
He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years last week over his family’s ownership of four luxury flats in London. His daughter and son-in-law Captain (retired) Muhammad Safdar Awan were sentenced for seven years and one year respectively.
The Avenfield corruption case is among the multiple graft cases filed against the former Premier and his children by the anti-corruption body on the Supreme Court’s directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict last year.