Sharif and Maryam were sent to a jail in Rawalpindi while 133 people were killed ahead of July 25 Pakistan general elections.
Lahore: It was a eventful and bloody Friday for Pakistan. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were arrested late Friday night following their conviction in one of three corruption cases.
On the same day, at least 133 people, including a top nationalist leader, were killed in a powerful suicide blast and a targeted attack on separate election rallies in Pakistan.
Sharif flew back to Pakistan in a last ditch attempt to galvanise his Pakistan Muslim League party before elections on July 25 but was dumped in a jail in Rawalpindi.
Their return to Pakistan to face a prison sentence is perceived as a high-stakes gamble to galvanise their beleaguered party ahead of the July 25 election. Sharif hopes to shake up an election race marred by accusations that Pakistan’s powerful military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favour of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan, who has described Sharif as a “criminal” who deserves no support.
Amidst tension and drama, the flight carrying Sharif and Maryam landed at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport at around 9 pm, nearly three hours late. Soon after, dozens of security officials entered the plane and asked other passengers to leave. The passports of Sharif and Maryam were seized and both were permitted to meet Begum Shamim Akhtar, Sharif’s mother, in the Haj Lounge before they were sent on a special private plane bound for Islamabad International Airport.
In a video message, tweeted by 44-year-old Maryam, the former PM urged his followers to stand with him and “change the fate of the country”. She also posted pictures of their visit to the hospital to see her ailing mother Kulsoom, who is critically ill and undergoing cancer treatment.
“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.
نواز شریف نے اپنا فرض نبھا دیا۔ اب آپ کی باری ہے ! pic.twitter.com/TqG2evM0wn
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) July 13, 2018
Sharif and Maryam were convicted on July 6 in the Evenfield properties case linked to the Sharif family’s ownership of four luxury flats in London. Sharif and Maryam were sentenced to 10 and seven years in prison. The family also faces 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.