Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and now a convict in corruption case, is all set to return home from London and authorities in Pakistan has made all arrangements to welcome him.
Mr Sharif could be arrested along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz mid-air on his way from Abu Dhabi and transported to jail on a helicopter, reports said.
In Lahore, the police have called in 10,000 extra personnel. The Lahore Police has already carried out a dozen or so raids across the city and arrested 300 workers of Mr Sharif’s political party. These PML-N workers were accused of contravention of Section 144 of Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and were sent to prison for 30 days.
According to the traffic plan issued by the Lahore traffic police, all roads leading to the airport were closed on Thursday night. Most entrance points to the city will also remain closed today in an effort to dissuade PML-N supporters of other adjoining cities from entering Lahore.
Current President of the ruling PML-N party and Mr Sharif’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif will lead the main rally towards the airport. Mr Sharif’s mother too has said she wants to go to the airport in a move that could encourage supporters.
Even though the younger Sharif and his party are confident of reaching the airport with a “sea of people”, it is unclear how far he will get before police intervenes. The law says all rallies need prior permission from the government; Shehbaz Sharif has not sought that permission.
Nawaz Sharif’s homecoming doesn’t look too good for the media either. Pakistan’s broadcast media regulator PEMRA issued strict warnings regarding coverage given to Nawaz Sharif after his conviction by the accountability court. The warning issued on Thursday reminded TV news channels that as per PEMRA laws, news channels were not allowed to show any material that glamorizes crime or “contains expressions against judiciary or armed forces of Pakistan”.
While the warning letter issued by PEMRA didn’t name the former Prime Minister, it is widely believed that this warning is an attempt at toning down the level of attention Mr Sharif’s homecoming has been getting in the media ever since he announced his decision to return back.
(With Inputs from PTI)