Pak authorities' confusion after Sharif's arrest grabs media attention

PML-N leaders addressing emergency press conference

PML-N leaders addressing emergency press conference

A victory for Khan's opposition party would mark a new political direction for Pakistan, which has been dominated by two parties - Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto - when the military has not been in power.

Both Sharif and Maryam have been sentenced by an accountability court to 10 and 7 years in prison respectively.

Sharif and his daughter Maryam "have been arrested" by corruption authorities "with immediate effect and till further orders", according to a statement from the Islamabad city administration.

An accountability court last week sentenced Maryam, the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to eight years in prison with a £2-million fine (Rs335-million), and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar to a year in prison.

On July 28, 2017, Sharif had to resign as Prime Minister after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding any public office for concealing his earnings.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of supporters and leaders of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party flooded the streets in Lahore on Friday in anticipation of the arrest of their leader.

"In Pakistan, leaders have to go to jail, that's important for their profile", said Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai.

"I know that. I will be directly taken to jail", Sharif, who was ousted for corruption by the Supreme Court past year and later also banned from politics for life, said in a video released by his party earlier Friday. The two were in London visiting Sharif's ailing wife when a Pakistani court convicted them of corruption and sent them to prison.

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The Etihad Airways flight EY243 arrived here from Abu Dhabi.

Their return could shake up an election race marred by accusations Pakistan's powerful military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favour of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan, who describes Sharif as a "criminal" who deserves no support.

Last night, police officials at Adiala Jail conducted the medical examination of Nawaz and Maryam and declared them fit.

Sharif was ordered jailed after failing to explain how the family acquired the London flats in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies.

No one claimed responsibility, but the bombing came days after a suicide bomber dispatched by the Pakistani Taliban killed secular politician Haroon Ahmed Bilour and 20 others at his rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Sharif is due to return to Pakistan on Friday to be arrested in a move that he hopes will boost his PML-N party ahead of polls, but Khan dismissed the move as futile. She questioned if all the PML-N senators leaving for Lahore to welcome Sharif are donkeys as per Imran. Maryam is now lodged in high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

Pakistan's third major political movement, the Pakistan Peoples Party, joined the criticism of the crackdown, with its prime ministerial candidate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari questioning why Sharif's supporters would be prevented from gathering. It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a "free and fair" elections, an army spokesperson said this week.

Recent opinion polls suggest PML-N has lost its lead nationally to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of arch-rival Khan, whose anti-corruption message has resonated with many Pakistanis.

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