Islamabad (HRNW): Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are returning home to face prison after being convicted by an accountability court in the Avenfield properties reference. After nearly a month-long stay, the PML-N supreme leader and his daughter began their journey to Pakistan from London’s Heathrow Airport late on Thursday. The father-daughter duo is expected to touch down at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore at around 6:15pm. The formerly ruling party has announced to accord its leaders “a historic welcome” upon their arrival at the airport. However, the government has made rigorous arrangements to ensure that it doesn’t hold a rally at the airport.
Special security measures have been put in place at and outside the airport. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Punjab government have devised a comprehensive strategy for their arrest at the airport. The caretaker Punjab government has put Rangers on high alert to deal with any untoward situation in the provincial capital. Sources say special NAB teams have been deployed at the airports in Islamabad and Lahore. If the flight carrying the PML-N leaders is not diverted to the federal capital, they will be taken to Islamabad via helicopter directly from the airport. Sharif and his daughter left for London on June 12 to see ailing Kulsoom Nawaz who has been undergoing treatment there and announced to return in a week or so.
However, Kulsoom suffered a cardiac arrest and was put on a ventilator. They, therefore, stayed on in London and linked their homecoming with her health. It was only after the accountability court convicted them in the Avenfield reference last Friday, they announced to return before the expiry of 10-day time limit to appeal the verdict in a high court. On July 6, the PML-N supreme leader was awarded 10 years in prison, while his daughter Maryam and her spouse Capt. Safdar were handed seven years’ and one year’s prison term, respectively. Judge Muhammad Bashir ordered forfeiture of their properties in the Avenfield Apartments and Park Lane of London. He imposed a fine of £8 million (approximately Rs1,292m) on the former premier and £2 million (approximately Rs323m) on his daughter. Besides, three convicts were awarded an additional one-year imprisonment, which will run concurrently for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).