Nawaz Sharif, Maryam to be transported to Adiala jail via helicopters

Sharif loyalists arrested as former PM returns to appeal conviction

If the flight carrying the PML-N leaders is not diverted to the federal capital, they will be taken to Islamabad via helicopter directly from the airport.

"But I'm returning to Pakistan leaving my sick wife behind", he vowed.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party has said it will mobilise supporters to greet his plane, but government officials have said he will be arrested as soon as he lands. "Nawaz Sharif is trying to pose himself as Nelson Mandela", a Dawn report quoted him as saying. I am aware that I have been sentenced to 10 years [in prison] and I will be taken to a jail cell straight away.

On July 6, Nawaz was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of eight million pounds was slapped on him in the Avenfield reference case, while Maryam was sentenced to seven years of jail and fined two million pounds, by the Pakistan Accountability Court.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif tweeted, "Told my kids to be fearless in the face of oppression".

Shehbaz Sharif and other senior leaders of the PML-N were visibly angry over the police crackdown on their party workers during a press conference held in Lahore on Thursday afternoon. "That s rather astounding", said the cricketer-turned-politican.

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Dozens of PML-N activists were arrested earlier this week and appeared in court on Wednesday, accused of plotting unrest to coincide with Sharif's return.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since 1947, has denied interfering in modern-day politics.

It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a "free and fair" elections, an army spokesman said. He was ousted from his third term as prime minister by the Supreme Court of Pakistan a year ago following a corruption investigation and banned from politics for life but remains a powerful symbol for his ruling party. His brother Shehbaz became PML-N's president, but Sharif remains the power behind the throne.

Khan has also denied colluding with the military.

The kind of reception Sharif receives on the streets of Lahore will be viewed carefully in Pakistan, where political popularity is often measured by the size of rallies that politicians can attract.

PML-N leaders say authorities have begun a crackdown against union council leaders, the street-level party workers who bring out people on the streets, detaining hundreds of workers over the last 36 hours.

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