Former Prime Minister Sharif Arrested Moments After Landing in Pakistan

PML-N leaders addressing emergency press conference

They plan to block roads with shipping containers to stop a large rally by Nawaz supporters, who were planning to march to the airport despite a ban.

The provincial government had beefed up security ahead of Sharif's arrival in Lahore, and detained scores of protesters in their bid to deter massive gatherings near the airport, officials said.

"We have orders from our top command not to take action against the PML-N rally participants", he said.

Mr Sharif returned late on Friday from London along with his daughter Maryam to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges.

Imran Khan asked his party workers to show patience ahead of Nawaz Sharif's return to the country. The party's past five years in power has been punctuated by the civil-military discord that has plagued Pakistan since its inception.

Local Geo TV said Sharif and his daughter were taken to another waiting aircraft to be flown out of Lahore, where more than 10,000 Sharif supporters were gathered to greet him. His daughter and likely political successor, Maryam, was given seven years.

Oxford-educated Khan spoke in an interview on Friday as his arch foe, ousted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was due to return to the country and be arrested on a conviction that was handed down by an anti-graft court last week.

Since his dismissal, he has led a series of rallies across the country, pointing the finger of blame at Pakistan's powerful military, which has ruled it for roughly half of its 70-year history and still largely controls security and foreign policy.

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He said the election commission has requested that the army assist in organizing a "fair and free" election on July 25, and more than 370,000 troops are being deployed at polling stations around Pakistan to achieve the objective.

Sharif alleges the military is aiding a "judicial witch-hunt" against him and the PML-N. "That is why he is willing to lose 10 years of his life over this". He also said that under PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's leadership, their opponents will face defeat. Former militant organizations are also contesting the election in a bid to joining mainstream politics. He describes Sharif as a "criminal" who deserves no support.

In a landmark verdict, the Sharifs were convicted by an anti-corruption court for not being able to prove a legitimate source for funds used to buy a set of upscale London apartments. They both deny wrongdoing.

On July 28, 2017, Sharif had to resign as Prime Minister after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding any public office for concealing his earnings. So far the party has centred its entire campaign on Nawaz's allegations of a grand establishment conspiracy to keep the PML-N from power.

PML-N has also been riven by internal divisions. 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.

Supporters of Nawaz Sharif rally to receive their leader in Lahore on Friday, July 13, 2018.

PML-N leaders say authorities have begun a crackdown against union council leaders, the street-level party workers who bring out people on the streets, detaining hundreds of workers over the last 36 hours. "Will they tell their children that they went to welcome the thief who had looted billions of rupees from the country?" He is a candidate of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an election alliance of radical religious groups.

The MMA is expected to challenge Khan's PTI in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the upcoming polls.

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