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    Friday, 13 July 2018

    Nawaz, Maryam reach Abu Dhabi, urge followers to show support

    Former prime minister and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz stopped over in Abu Dhabi on Friday on their way to Pakistan from London.
    In a video message, tweeted by Maryam, the former premier urged his followers to stand with him and "change the fate of the country".
    "The country is at a critical juncture right now," said Nawaz. "I have done what I could. I am aware that I have been sentenced to 10 years [in prison] and I will be taken to a jail cell straight away. But I want the Pakistani nation to know that I am doing this for you."Nawaz and Maryam are expected to land at Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport at 6.15 PM on Friday via Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways flight EY243.
    Mayam took to Twitter to post pictures of the scenes in London before their departure. In one picture, the father and daughter are seen bidding a teary farewell to Kulsoom Nawaz, who is said to be comatose and admitted at a London hospital.Nawaz and Maryam will be arrested on their arrival at Lahore airport from where they will be taken to Islamabad by helicopter so that they can be sent to Adiala jail for imprisonment.
    The two PML-N leaders are returning to Pakistan to face a prison sentence handed out on July 6 by an accountability court in the Avenfield reference case, in which the judge ruled that Nawaz, Maryam and her husband Captain Safdar own assets beyond known income. They were respectively handed jail sentences of 10, seven and one year each.
    Maryam was given 7 years for abetment after she was found "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father" and 1 year for non-cooperation with the bureau. These sentences will also run concurrently; she will serve 7 years in total.
    According to the verdict, she "aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father". "The trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus," read the judgement.
    Nawaz, who was in London with his wife and children when the verdict was announced, said he is returning to Pakistan from London to fulfil his pledge to "honour the vote".
    Addressing a party conference in London with Maryam by his side, Sharif said he has decided to return to the country "despite seeing the bars of prison in front of my eyes".
    "Is there any Pakistani who has had three generations of his family go through an accountability process only to find out that no corruption was ever done?" he asked during the presser that was broadcast live on Facebook.
    Sharif also criticised the court's decision to sentence his daughter to a seven-year term in jail, saying those who did so "did not even remember in their hate what stature daughters have in Pakistan".

    Situation tense in Lahore

    Amid reports of a province-wide crackdown, the provincial capital police detained nearly 200 workers and local party leaders ahead of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam’s return.
    A majority of the detainees were the union council chairmen, vice chairmen and councillors of the party.
    On Friday, the Lahore High Court ordered authorities to release all detained leaders and workers of the PML-N. During the hearing of a petition moved by a lawyer, the provincial police chief told the high court that 141 people had been taken into custody due to threats of terrorism.
    Shahbaz Sharif is supposed to lead the main rally from Lohari Gate to the airport to accord a warm welcome to Nawaz Sharif.
    “PML-N will start its historic rally from the historic point of Muslim Mosque, Lohari Gate. A large number of PML-N workers and people will gather there and march toward the airport to receive their beloved leader,” PML-N media coordinator Muhammad Mehdi told Dawn on Thursday.
    He said the Lohari Gate was a central point of three constituencies — NA-124, NA-123 and NA-125. "In the political history of the city, rallies that began from the spot assumed historic value and this would also prove to be a historic one,” he claimed.
    Heavy contingents of police have been deployed at all entry points to the city. Containers have been readied to block off main roads, but as of now, entry routes are open to all. A police official claimed that the arrangements were made to avoid any terrorism-related incidents. He added that no orders have been passed to arrest political workers or to block the motorway.

    Traffic plan

    The caretaker government devised an alternate traffic plan on the eve of the arrival of Nawaz Sharif at Lahore airport on Friday.
    Traffic coming from Islamabad will enter Lahore via motorway through Thokar Niaz Beg, Qazilbash Chowk and Shaukat Khanum Chowk. Traffic from GT Road will enter the city via Kala Shah Kaku through Thokar. Traffic from Kala Khatai Road will enter via Shahdara Chowk, Begum Kot and Faizpur Interchange through motorway. Traffic from Multan Road will enter via Bund Road and Mohlanwal Road. To exit Lahore, use Maulana Shaukat Ali Road, Johar Town Main Boulevard, Shaukat Khanum, Qazilbash Chowk, Motorway Interchange or Multan Road.
    The international travellers have been asked to reach at least six hours prior to the departure time at designated areas in Lahore. They will be transported to airport via a shuttle service which will be provided from Bhatta Chowk, Chungi Dogaij, Gajjumata, Mehfooz Park and Niazi Shaheed Park.
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