IHC takes up pleas against Avenfield reference verdict tomorrow


Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who has been imprisoned with her father, has rejected an offer for better facilities in jail.

But the veteran politician has ensured that each moment of his return delivers him returns in limelight and column inches, including him leaving behind wife Kulsoom who is on ventilator support following surgery for throat cancer in the United Kingdom and his leaving a country that offered him comfort and safety he is bound to be denied (or at least not ensured) in his home country.

It seems like Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's arrest following his conviction in the Avenfield corruption case has given the opportunity to Congress to take a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

PML-N candidates have also alleged Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, is pressuring them to switch loyalties and contest the July 25 polls as independents.

Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were convicted in the Avenfield reference case on July 6.

Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were convicted in the Avenfield Apartments reference case.

In Pakistan, where military's blessings and approval are important for any political party to survive, Sharif will project himself as a crusader for democracy and an independent leader, who was persecuted for defying the army's line.

Uniformed men escorted the Sharifs, who were sentenced in absentia on corruption charges last week, from their airplane after it touched down in the central city of Lahore at around 8:45 p.m. (1645 GMT), a Reuters reporter on board said.

Both Sharif and Maryam have been sentenced by an accountability court to 10 and 7 years in prison respectively. It has also allowed the people of Pakistan to see through the divisive and often destructive ploys of the Pakistani military undermining the civilian supremacy.

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Pakistan's caretaker government has cracked down on popular dissent in anticipation of the Sharifs' arrival, arresting hundreds of people in Lahore - many of whom were members of the Sharifs' party - and suspending cell phone service in parts of the city, according to Dawn.

The party's past five years in government have been characterised by discord with the military, which has ruled Pakistan for almost half its 71-year history.

However, her father and her husband Muhammad Safdar applied and got B-class facilities, according to jail officials. The 2016 Panama Papers leak revealed Sharif's children had assets and owned companies that weren't detailed on a government-ordered disclosure statement. Police was deployed in large numbers across the city and roads leading to the airport were blocked to prevent Sharif supporters from reaching the airport. They both deny wrongdoing.

Since then, a host of his allies have been either disqualified by the courts or face corruption cases. Held up at an airport in Abu Dhabi, waiting for a delayed connection home, Nawaz Sharif even urged people to "think about who delayed this flight and why".

He's watching closely: Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz's younger brother, could soon play a hidden hand.

Or, was this the master stroke that was needed for yet another PML (N) wave? Sections of the party oppose Sharif's combative approach against the army, and fear it will turn off voters in a deeply conservative and patriotic Muslim nation of 208 million people.

On Friday morning, a bomb blast struck the convoy of Akram Khan Durrani, an ally of Sharif's PML-N from the religious Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal party (MMA) in the northern town of Bannu, killing four people.

The Sharif's return came at the end of a tense day of political protest in Lahore which saw up to 20,000 rally in his support despite a sweeping security crackdown.