Pakistan opens terrorism investigation against ex-PM's party before election

Sharif loyalists arrested as former PM returns to appeal conviction

Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were heading home from London on Friday and were set to be arrested as soon as they set foot in Lahore.

Sharif, 68, and his daughter Maryam, 44, were arrested in Lahore on Friday on their arrival from London after an accountability court found them guilty on July 6 over his family's ownership of four luxury flats in London.

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.

For their roles in the scandal, his daughter and her husband, retired army Capt. Safdar Awan, also received seven- and one-year sentences, respectively.

Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), political party, holds his tasbih, while having tea on a plane on his way to a campaign rally ahead of general elections in Sialkot, Pakistan July 12, 2018.

No other party leader or worker visited Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on their first day in jail, as the authorities had allocated Thursday for the visitors wanting to meet them.

Former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif along with his sons Hamza Shehbaz, Salman Shehbaz and mother Begum Shamim Sharif had reached Islamabad on chartered aircraft.

The military denied the accusations, saying their assistance in carrying out the elections was requested by Pakistan's election commission.

"In Pakistan, leaders have to go to jail, that's important for their profile", said Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai. Last week, Nawaz and Maryam were sentenced to jail by an anti-corruption court.

At least 132 people were killed and dozens more critically injured, in a bombing at an election campaign rally in a remote region of Pakistan, an attack that hurled the country deep into political chaos.

In a video released Friday morning by the Pakistan Muslim League Noon (PMLN) party, Sharif could be seen addressing his supporters from inside an airplane, stating that he was returning to Pakistan as a "sacrifice for the future generations of the country and for its political stability". A team of doctors conducted the medical checkup of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz and declared them fit.

Their swift departure prevented PML-N workers staging a hero's welcome on the streets of Lahore, where Sharif's brother, Shehbaz, led between 10,000 and 20,000 party supporters on a march in defiance of a citywide ban on public gatherings. She also posted photos of Nawaz visiting his wife, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer in London.

The elder Sharif had been dismissed as prime minister last July, after the Supreme Court ruled that he had lied on a parliamentary wealth declaration.

After the court's verdict, the remaining cases pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, and offshore companies, including Flagship Investment Limited. If Imran Khan's party, the PTI, is elected to power, it would be a victory for the military over the civilian leadership.

Some cars in the rallies carried plastic or stuffed tigers attached to their rooftops, a nod to the PML-N's election symbol.

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