Nawaz Sharif, Maryam may be held mid-air; Lahore shuts phone networks

All television channels in Pakistan have been asked to stop live telecast of briefings of political leaders.

Lahore: Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, sentenced to jail for corruption, are likely to be arrested mid-air, even before they land in Lahore on Friday evening, reports suggested.

Security has been tightened and over 10,000 police officers have been deployed at Lahore airport where Sharif’s plane from London is scheduled to land.

According to reports, a team of Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau is trying to leave for Abu Dhabi to board the flight taken by the Sharifs, so they can be arrested as soon as the plane enters Pakistani airspace.

Meanwhile, on-board flight to UAE's Abu Dhabi airport, Nawaz Sharif said: "I'll be taken straight to jail. But I am doing this for people of Pakistan, sacrificing for generations to come. Such opportunity won't come again. Let's build destiny of Pakistan together."

Sharif and daughter Maryam landed at UAE's Abu Dhabi International Airport on Friday morning.

Thousands of supporters are expected to congregate at the Lahore airport for the dramatic home-coming for Nawaz Sharif, a three-time prime minister who wants to campaign for his party ahead of the July 25 general elections.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s media regulator has ordered all the television channels to stop live telecast of briefings of political leaders containing ‘defamatory and derogatory’ content.

The step has been taken to ensure that Nawaz Sharif doesn’t turn public opinion in his favour for the upcoming elections.

The media regulator also banned live telecast of speeches by leaders against judiciary, armed forces, is seen as an effort to black out Sharif when he lands in Pakistan on Friday evening.

According to reports, Pakistan's Punjab government has ordered to shut mobile networks in Lahore from 3 pm to 12 midnight today.

Nawaz Sharif, 68, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Pakistan accountability court for corrupt practices linked to his family’s purchase of London flats. The former prime minister also faces two more cases following Panama Paper scandal.

Sharif is accompanied by his daughter Maryam Nawaz who is also convicted and sentenced to seven years of prison.

Before leaving for Pakistan from London, Maryam, said: “It is the most difficult decision of our lives because my mother is on the ventilator and we don't know what happens next, their is no pain like that of leaving your mother behind in such situation but there's a national duty and we must make this important journey.”

This dramatic return of the former PM comes ahead of Pakistan’s general elections which will pit PML-N against its main political rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by Imran Khan.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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