News ID: 218162
Published: 0332 GMT July 12, 2018

Pakistani police arrest ex-PM Sharif's supporters ahead of his return from UK

Pakistani police arrest ex-PM Sharif's supporters ahead of his return from UK

Pakistani police have detained hundreds of supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in eastern Punjab province ahead of the ousted leader's return from London.

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), the former ruling party, said Thursday scores of its members had been detained in Lahore and other major cities of the province over the past few hours. Police said about 100 were detained "to avoid violence."

“We received instructions to take prominent PML-N activists from their areas to avoid a law and order problem,” media outlets quoted an unnamed police official as saying, Presstv Reported.

Muhammad Mehdi, the party’s media coordinator, said that nearly 500 workers had been detained in a “massive crackdown”, including raids on the homes of some of the party’s local councilors.

Mustafain Shah, a PML-N official, said police began monitoring his house and the residences of a number of other party activists on Wednesday night. “I left my house last night and am hiding at a friend’s house,” he said.

Shaukat Javed, the Punjab government’s caretaker law minister, said his office had not ordered the detentions.

“Punjab government has not issued any kind of instructions to police for a crackdown against PML-N activists,” he said.

The arrests came a day before Sharif was due to return to Pakistan where he faces arrest. The crackdown on workers will make it harder for them to stage rallies on Sharif’s return.

A Pakistani court on Friday handed down a 10-year jail term to Sharif in a corruption case linked to his family's purchase of upscale flats in London. 

Sharif was jailed as his family could not explain how they obtained funds to purchase four luxury flats in London's exclusive Hyde Park area.

Sharif's daughter Maryam, widely seen as his political heir, received a seven-year prison sentence. Muhammad Safdar, her husband and a lawmaker with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), was sentenced to one year in prison. Maryam was given a prison term for allegedly providing a forged trust deed, for which Safdar was a witness.

The former prime minister has censured the court proceedings as politically motivated and a judicial witch-hunt.

The Sharif clan and their supporters have repeatedly denied allegations of corruption, suggesting the three-time premier is the victim of a conspiracy driven by Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.

Sharif has also said the military’s intelligence wing, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, is intimidating his party’s candidates to switch loyalties ahead of the July 25 general election.

The run-up to the poll has been marred by accusations that the military is meddling in politics and muzzling the media to help usher cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) into power. Khan has denied colluding with the military.

The military, which has ruled the nuclear-armed country for almost half its history, has also denied involvement.

 

 

   
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