NAB team arrests father, daughter from Lahore airport; Nawaz says Pakistan turned into battlefield, some forces pressurising caretaker govt to take harsh decisions in Punjab
Deposed prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam Nawaz were shifted to Adiala jail on Friday night after they were arrested at Lahore airport upon their return to the country from Britain.
Dozens of security officials entered the plane after it landed and asked other passengers to leave. The duo’s passports were seized by a three-member Federal Investigation Agency team. Their immigration formalities were completed on board the plane.
Shortly afterwards, they were boarded a special plane which took off for Islamabad. The flight landed at the New Islamabad airport at around 10:35PM, after which Nawaz and Maryam were taken to the Adiala Jail in separate armoured personnel carriers escorted by police convoys.
Meanwhile, a notification was issued by the Islamabad administration declaring the rest house at the Sihala Police Training College in the capital as a sub-jail for keeping the two figures with immediate effect and until further orders.
Earlier on Friday night, accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir signed arrest warrants for the father-daughter duo.
Meanwhile, a NAB prosecution team had approached the accountability court seeking an exemption for Nawaz and Maryam’s appearance before the court. NAB Additional Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi told the court that the convicts cannot be produced before the court due to a high security risk.
The accountability court conceded the request and appointed Magistrate Wasim Ahmed to execute the warrants of imprisonment at Adiyala. By this exercise, authorities eliminated any chance of producing Nawaz and Maryam before the court Friday night or in the morning. The two have initially been taken to the Central Jail in Adiyala, Rawalpindi, for a medical examination. The National Accountability Bureau and Punjab governments had made arrangements to take the father-daughter duo into custody upon arrival and shift them to Adiala Jail.
Earlier, talking to reporters from Abu Dhabi over the phone, the former PM said Pakistan had been turned into a battlefield. He alleged that some forces were forcing the caretaker government to take harsh decisions in Punjab ahead of elections.
Nawaz urged Punjab caretaker chief minister Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi to resign or step down because “people of Punjab had lost faith in him”. The deposed PM questioned why such measures were being taken in Punjab alone.
To a question, he questioned the alleged curbs on freedom of speech and asked the media to stand up against it.
Nawaz wondered how a flight “that is never late” had been delayed today and urged people to “think about who delayed this flight and why.”
When asked if he believes that returning to Pakistan in the current “tense” situation was a good idea, Nawaz said that he knows “what the situation in the country is like”.
“I know I have been handed a 10-year sentence and Maryam has been given seven years in jail, but we are returning because this country’s fate needs to change — we need to change it.”
“The media also needs to be brave and take a stand in the face of it all,” Nawaz said, adding that the media’s freedom is being curbed today because “they see that this nation has risen and the media is rising and they are afraid. Why else would they do all this?”
“What is happening in this country today, what is happening in Lahore, raises questions regarding the elections. No other province is facing the situation we see in Lahore: hundreds of our party workers have been arrested; people are being pressured into switching loyalties. All of this makes a question mark on the credibility of the election,” Nawaz said.
“I am not afraid of being arrested. If I was, why would I be coming back? It does not matter if NAB or the people who have sent NAB personnel to arrest me from here [Abu Dhabi] or from Lahore. I am ready for it,” Nawaz said.