Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam Nawaz are set to arrive in Pakistan later today to face the music. The father-daughter duo are both facing jail time of 10 and 7 years respectively in the recently announced Avenfield verdict. The next few hours will be crucial for both national security and the state of accountability in the country. While some are glued to the screens to see them walk through the gates of Adiala Jail, others are rallying up to support the political giant and his most vociferous supporter, Maryam.
We have already received information on their departure from London and continue to monitor their movement as they reach Pakistan.
Nawaz and Maryam began their journey late Thursday night, leaving Haley street to board their flight at London’s Heathrow Airport.
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaViews) July 12, 2018
A series of photos started making rounds on the internet of the duo’s goodbyes before departure. PML-N supporters continue to laud Nawaz and Maryam and for their bravery in facing the consequences of their actions. Maryam herself has played into the narrative of the sacrificial first daughter by re-tweeting such instances herself in the past few hours.
— Faisal Ranjha (@ranjha001) July 12, 2018
— Hameed Mandokhail (@HamedMandokhail) July 12, 2018
Following their goodbyes, Maryam’s son Junaid Safdar was arrested for being involved in a public brawl with PTI workers.
Two narratives are in play with his arrest. Many are criticising his behavior and pointing out how swiftly the law was implemented in his arrest since it was in the UK. Others are sympathizing with Junaid and the Sharif family, citing retaliatory impulses for his behavior. Check out the video below and decide for yourself which side makes more sense.
— Syed Raza Mehdi (@SyedRezaMehdi) July 12, 2018
Meanwhile, as the Sharif’s are en route, several developments in Lahore have the public on edge.
Containers have been placed outside the airport to discourage PML-N supporters from swarming in at the time of arrival.
— Propergaanda (@propergaanda) July 12, 2018
#Nawaz return crack down. Containers begin to be placed at Shahdra — entry point to Lahore. Arrests continue. Instructions given to nab local level organisers and spare ex MPAs MNAs. Also, raining in Lahore.
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) July 12, 2018
This could potentially create a greater furor as authorities try to make the arrest.
Around 300 PML-N workers and activists have also been detained ahead of the Sharifs’ arrival. It remains to be seen whether this is good security measure or tactless in terms of potentially enabling greater unrest.
Strongly condemn Police raids on houses of PMLN workers in Narowal District. Pre poll rigging plan to give advantage to one party. This will not dampen our spirits instead recharge our commitment. Nobody can stop PMLN from winning! Vote ko izzat dou! Khidmat ko vote dou!!!
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) July 12, 2018
In acc with judgment of the NAB Court MNS & MariamNawaz r returning to be arrested. R they violating law or abiding by law? Which law forbids party workers 2 assemble, 2 respond to a pol call? Why this martial law style midnight knocks & arrest & crackdown across Lahore ?
— Nasim Zehra (@NasimZehra) July 11, 2018
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) revealed their plan to make the arrests as well.
10,000 police officers will be deployed across #Lahore #Pakistan on Friday to “maintain law and order” as ousted PM Nawaz Sharif and daughter @MaryamNSharif arrive from London to face arrest after an anti-graft court verdict https://t.co/TQbsrB4U15
— Mehreen Zahra-Malik (@mehreenzahra) July 12, 2018
Amidst speculation that the duo will land in Islamabad instead of Lahore as scheduled, NAB has arranged for helicopters to be stationed at both airports for an immediate arrest. Moreover, a 16 member team and special police units have all been deployed to ensure swift action to keep the chaos to a minimum.
Meanwhile, long before the journey began, Shehbaz Sharif has ensured that the homecoming rally will be a peaceful one.
I will personally lead the reception rally from Lohari Gate tomorrow. I assure the authorities that our reception for Nawaz Sharif will be wholly peaceful. The PMLN is builder of Pakistan.We served the masses during last many years. How can we destroy what we built up? #SSpresser
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) July 12, 2018
His promise is one to look out for as the division of public sentiment these past few hours has everyone anxious. Stay tuned for more updates as we sit tight and see what unfolds at 6 pm today as Nawaz and Maryam land at Lahore airport.