Former PM Nawaz Sharif has been arrested, marking a major point in Pakistan’s history.
He and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, reached Lahore at 8:48pm Friday on a private airline.
They flew from London on July 12 at 8:45pm. Their flight made a stop in UAE, where the father-daughter duo spent seven hours before flying to Lahore.
Shahbaz Sharif, who was not been able to make it to the airport to welcome his brother, wrapped the welcome rally by asking PML-N supporters to come out in large numbers on the day of election and vote the party into power.
Nawaz and Maryam have been shifted to Adiala Jail, SAMAA TV reported.
Nawaz Sharif waves moment before boarding the Islamabad bound plane
Exclusive video of Nawaz and Maryam being taken into custody at Lahore airport.
NAB and police convoy taking Nawaz and Maryam to Sihala Police Training College Rest House in Islamabad.
Sihala Rest House has been declared a sub-jail. A notification has been issued in this regard.
Judge Muhammad Bashir of the accountability has reached the judicial complex in Islamabad.
Head of NAB prosecution team Sardar Muzaffar has also reached the court.
Media is not allowed inside the court.
Plane carrying Nawaz and Maryam has landed at Islamabad airport.
Nawaz and Maryam are being taken to Islamabad on a special plane.
PML-N leaders trying to enter Lahore airport.
Nawaz Sharif has been arrested by the FIA and NAB officials from the plane.
Maryam Nawaz was also taken into custody by the female officers.
*It was incorrectly reported that the Rangers entered the aircraft. It was FIA and NAB personnel.
Etihad Airways’ flight carrying Nawaz Sharif lands at Lahore airport.
PML-N leaders including Nawaz’s brother Shehbaz Shairf have not yet been able to enter the airport premises.
PML-N leader Saad Rafique said that PML-N party workers were peacefully heading towards the Lahore airport to welcome former PM Nawaz Sharif.
“We don’t intend to storm the airport and create a law and order situation,” Rafique told SAMAA.
Etihad Airways flight ETD-243 carrying Nawaz and Maryam has entered Pakistan airspace. The flight is expected to reach Lahore airport at 8:45pm.
Clashes have erupted in different areas of Lahore as police try to stop PML-N workers from reaching the airport.
Police fired tear gas at protesters in Ferozwala in Lahore.
PML-N leaders have begun gathering at the Lahore airport.
Nawaz and Maryam’s plane has taken off from Abu Dhabi. The flight is expected to land at 8:48pm in Lahore.
PML-N workers have begun removing the containers placed on the roads leading to the Lahore airport. They removed cars on Mall Road.
Former MPA Shabbir Kotla along with dozens of PML-N workers were arrested following clashes with the police near Gujarat. The Lalamusa SHO was injured in the clash.
Speaking to SAMAA TV, Rana Sanaullah said they were coming to Lahore very peacefully. He said they had travelled 15 kilometres on foot.
On the airplane, Nawaz said they have turned Pakistan into a battlefield by putting up barricades everywhere. “Do you think we are going to worry about NAB now?” he asked, questioning what kind of elections are going to be held.
“What will be credibility of these elections? Do you think the international community is going to accept these elections?” he asked.
PML-N workers have started to gather at the Lahore airport. Security around the airport is on high alert.
A helipad has been made near the Adiala Jail where the Sharifs are to be shifted. Security personnel have been stationed around it.
Nawaz and Maryam boarded their flight for Lahore. The flight is expected to take off shortly.
The former prime minister and his daughter were the last passengers to board the flight.
Rana Sanaullah’s convoy in Faisalabad was blocked by security forces when it attempted to get to Lahore.
Half of Lahore has been blocked by containers. Routes from Anarkali to WAPDA Town have been sealed.
The Punjab inspector general of police has ordered that all the PML-N workers who were arrested should be released.
PML-N workers have reached Lohari Gate.
SAMAA TV anchor Nadeem Malik termed it a ‘decent’ rally led by Shehbaz Sharif. He said there is a lot of enthusiasm but the numbers are not as great as expected.
PML-N workers have removed the barricades set up on Canal Road.
According to SAMAA TV correspondent Muhammad Qurban, a group led by PML-N leader Saiful Mulook removed the barricades on Canal Road in Lahore using a crane that they brought with them. When the police tried to stop them and resorted to a baton charge, PML-N workers attacked the security officials.
Shehbaz Sharif has reached the Lahori Gate and said no one can stop them from going to the airport. “I am trying to control the people [PML-N supporters] but if you try to stop us I will not be responsible for what happens,” he told SAMAA TV anchor Nadeem Malik.
He said they will go to the airport on whichever route God takes them.
In Lahore, helicopters are monitoring the security situation and protesters are being told not to gather for the rally.
SAMAA TV correspondent Arshad Virk said the Rangers have taken over security outside the airport and some areas going to the airport have been closed. The route from Cantt is still open for passengers.
Ambulances are also being stopped from travelling on roads in the city.
Barriers have been placed on Faisalabad’s Canal Road at the Kashmir Bridge and the police have been deployed to stop former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah’s convoy from going to Lahore.
SAMAA TV London bureau chief Kausar Kazmi, who is at the Abu Dhabi airport, said the airline has said the flight is likely to take off in 40 minutes but that does not seem likely.
Speaking at the Abu Dhabi airport, Nawaz said, “If I am not allowed to be in touch with the people, I am still taking the struggle forward”.
“I have taken the steps I had to take. I am arriving in Pakistan to ensure the respect of the vote. I am coming for the future generations of Pakistan,” said the former prime minister. He said he is coming to repay his debt to Pakistan. “I believe that everyone needs to repay these debts,” he said.
Nawaz’s lawyer, Khawaja Haris, is also present at the airport. He is not being allowed to meet the former PM.
A 10-member NAB team is also present.
Mall Road and Drigh Road have been blocked ahead of the PML-N’s homecoming rally for the Sharifs.
PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said this is not a caretaker government, it is a ‘khalai makhlooq’ government, referring to security agencies.
Containers have been placed on GT Road. The police stopped the caravan of PML-N workers at the Kamoke Toll Plaza from proceeding towards Lahore. Party workers got out of their vehicles and shouted slogans in support of Nawaz.
The interim Punjab home minister, Shaukat Javed, said the containers will be used if the situation gets out of hand. He said the PML-N never obtained permission to hold a rally nor will they be allowed to hold one. He said the roads have been opened.
He said the interim government is totally impartial and that the decision to suspend cellular services in Lahore was made for security reasons.
NAB is a federal authority, said Javed, adding that the bureau will be operating at airport which is controlled by the ASF, which is another federal authority. The provincial authorities will be on call, he said, adding that they are there to implement the law.
A fence has been set up at the airport and no one should cross it, said Javed.
The flight was delayed because other passengers on the flight asked the airline to delay it so they could make other arrangements. The other passengers wanted to make sure they would arrive at their destination and expressed concerns that the flight would be diverted to Islamabad.
The entire Pakistani nation will reject the verdict today, said Hamza Shehbaz in a video message. “You all have said your Friday prayers,” he said. “I have arrived here. Shehbaz Sharif sahib will lead us. So be prepared to show loyalty to your leader.”
PML-N leader Talal Chaudhry said that PML-N workers will receive Nawaz at the airport. “We are peaceful and want to remain so,” he said. “But everything has a limit. You have insulted our mothers and sisters inside our homes. You arrested thousands of our workers. We will not tolerate this. If the administration does not stop, we will make the next announcement. Then containing the situation will be their job.”
Shehbaz is in the city and will arrive at the time of the rally, said Chaudhry.
Containers have been placed on the roads leading to the Punjab Assembly.
PML-N leaders Hamza Shehbaz, Saira Afzal Tarar, Uzma Bukhari and Azad Kashmir PM Raja Farooq Haider reached Lohari Gate for the Sharifs’ homecoming rally. A number of PML-N workers have gathered near Muslim Masjid.
A worker at Lohari Gate said that their political fervour was a result of the injustice done to the party. “We will undo the verdict on July 25,” she said.
The best part is that we are here for a cause, said PML-N leader Bukhari. “It’s very easy to indulge in politics sitting in air-conditioned rooms,” she said. “We haven’t stepped out of our houses for Nawaz Sharif. We are doing it for ourselves. It’s for the respect of our votes,” she said.
“What is happening today used to happen in the martial law eras,” said Bukhari. “People were picked up overnight. Raids were conducted. Containers were placed. Such tactics have never been able to minus leadership or parties.”
The Sharifs’ flight was delayed by two hours in Abu Dhabi and will now land in Lahore at 8:15pm.
SAMAA TV Islamabad bureau chief Khalid Azeem Chaudhry said that an aircraft is considered the property of the country it is registered in. “It’s called their flagship,” he said. “The parameters of the aircraft are considered the jurisdiction of that country. As far as I know, the Sharifs cannot be arrested until they are in the aircraft. As soon as they step out of the plane, they can be arrested.”
He said that another legal aspect that must be considered is that a person cannot be taken to jail after sunset. “This means that they will be taken to a NAB office or a lock-up,” he said. “Jails do not normally admit prisoners after sunset.”
Shehbaz Sharif is currently visiting inner city areas in Lahore and said Nawaz has had to say goodbye to his very sick wife and is about to reach the city in a few hours.
He urged people to come to the airport with him.
Shehbaz once again asked the masses to accompany him to the Lahore airport to welcome Nawaz and Maryam to Pakistan.
“I request everyone to play their role for democracy, development and prosperity in Pakistan,” the former Punjab chief minister said. “Accompany me to the Lahore airport after Friday prayers.” He said people are anxious to go to the airport, adding that the state’s intention to repress the masses will fail.
At 12:15pm law enforcers also closed Allama Iqbal Airport in Lahore to non-passengers. Only travellers with tickets and passports will be allowed in. A large contingent of the police surrounded the airport.
Abu Dhabi airport. pic.twitter.com/CtUK3vCkMu
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) July 13, 2018
A three-member National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team has reached Abu Dhabi. They will travel to Pakistan with the Sharifs. Once the aircraft enters Pakistan, they will arrest the two, said NAB sources.
Two helicopters are present at the Lahore airport. It is likely that the father-daughter duo will be taken to Adiala Jail in the helicopters.
Mobile phone service has been suspended in different parts of Lahore such as Shahdara and Nawab Town. The service will remain suspended from 3pm to 11pm. The police have been equipped with tear gas and anti-riot gear. The provincial administration announced that no political parties will be allowed to hold a rally in Lahore on Friday.
PML-N leaders and workers had planned to move from Rawalpindi to Lahore in a rally to greet the Sharif family. At around 11am workers converged at Nawaz Sharif Park in Rawalpindi. It was decided that party leader Chaudhry Tanveer would lead the rally.
The police surrounded the party’s office in Rawalpindi with tear gas guns and anti-riot gear.
Why they’re being arrested
An accountability court sentenced Nawaz in the Avenfield case to 10 years in prison for owning assets beyond his known income. It awarded Maryam seven years in jail after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father”. The verdict said: she “aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father”.
“The trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus,” the verdict read. For this, she has been sentenced to an additional year in the jail.
The court handed a year to Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar, Nawaz’s son-in-law, for not cooperating with the accountability watchdog, and aiding and abetting his wife and father-in-law. NAB arrested Safdar on July 8 and sent him to Adiala Jail.
Nawaz and Maryam had gone to London on June 15 to spend Eid with Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, who has been battling throat cancer for the last few months. On June 14, Begum Kulsoom suffered a cardiac arrest and has been on life support since then. On July 12, she opened her eyes after a month-long coma. “[This is the] first time in 30 days that ami opened eyes for a few seconds. Don’t know if she saw or registered us. Still not conscious and on the ventilator. Prayers solicited,” Maryam said on Twitter.
After the verdict in the Avenfield case, Nawaz and his daughter announced that they are returning to Pakistan on Friday. According to NAB law, an accused can file an appeal against the court’s verdict within 10 days of the judgment being made public.
The road to Adiala Jail
The three-time premier will land at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport at 6:15pm. Maryam had announced a rally on July 13 in Lahore, after which the two will surrender to the authorities.
“We are going to Pakistan to surrender, not to run away,” said the former first daughter on Tuesday. “We will address our workers after leaving the airport. It is time to end the war that has been going on for 70 years. It’s no longer the 1970s or 1980s when you could dictate to everyone. Allah knows best about our return.”
On the other hand, the caretaker government’s information minister, Ali Zafar, announced on July 12 that Nawaz and his daughter will be arrested at the airport and will not be allowed to speak to the public.
The interim government has arrested over 300 PML-N workers under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance ahead of the former PM’s expected arrival. Containers have been placed on the roads.
Shehbaz Sharif, the president of the PML-N and Nawaz’s younger brother, will lead the homecoming rally. The rally will begin at 3pm from Lohari Gate and will move towards Allama Iqbal International Airport. Shehbaz has asked all party workers to join.