LAHORE/ ISLAMABAD   -  The PML-N is preaparing for according a spectacular welcome to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on Friday, while the party is also evolving its strategy to deal with the post-landing situation.

The Lahore director general of the National Accountability Bureau, on the other hand has requested the bureau chairman for a helicoptor so the convicts could be lifted from the airport and taken directly to Adiala jail, avoiding the expected trouble at the roads.

A senior police officer told The Nation yesterday that law enforcement agencies will put in place a “collective and comprehensive strategy” to maintain peace and law and order in Lahore on the occasion.

But he said the decision of blocking the way of PML-N marchers to the airport or otherwise would be taken by the caretaker cabinet, probably at the last-minute.

Nawaz Sharif’s mother, Api Jee, is insistent and has conveyed to the family that she will go to Lahore airport to receive her son and granddaughter. She is prepared to even address the crowd if need be.

Reportedly, the Api Jee will also try to prevent the arrest of her children. She said the authorities will have to arrest her too and put in the jail with Nawaz and Maryam are taken to prision forcefully.

Meanwhile, the legal and political minds of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are also devising a strategy to deal with the situation after their leaders land at the airport at 6:30pm on Friday.

The former PM and his daughter, who are in London to look after Nawaz’s ailing wife Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, were convicted by an accountability court on Friday and sentenced to several years in jail, besides imposition of heavy fines.

The father and the daughter expressed reservations on the court verdict but announced that they will return to the country and boldly face the powers that they believe have framed them in false cases.

The organising committees set up for the reception of the Sharifs at the Allama Iqbal International Airport expect that their mega show would not only attract national but global attention.

Since the PML-N candidates for general elections are preoccupied with their campaigns, the party is going to rely more on the local government representatives of the party to fetch maximum number of workers and supporters from all over the country.

The committees however have directed the ticket holders too to do their maximum to put up an impressive show of strength.

The obvious focus of these efforts is Punjab, where PML-N remains the most popular party. Organisation committees have also been set up in other provinces for the purpose. The party has announced to hold a peaceful reception and the leaders are instructing the workers in this respect.

The party intends to project a huge popularity of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter to the world as a mark of the public acceptance of the development and achievements done to the country during three stints of the Sharif governments.

A massive public reception is also sure to bolster the PML-N narrative on the accountability references against the Sharifs and against the conviction awarded to them therein.

Hamza Shahbaz Sharif – who is heading the committee to mobilise the workers – held a meeting with the party LG representatives and other leaders. He passed them instructions about the transportation and stay of the party workers from other stations and other allied matters.

It has been learnt from the party insiders that the workers in Islamabad have also been instructed to remain on their toes to receive their leaders in the federal capital in case the Ittehad Airlines flight carrying them is diverted from Lahore.

The PML-N candidates and workers in the city are in high spirits to receive their leaders. The candidates are motivating the gathering in their corner meetings to reach the airport while at many places welcome banners have also been placed.



Security plan

It is not clear yet whether or not the PML-N workers would be allowed to march towards the Lahore airport to welcome their leader. However, the city police are planning to throw a massive security blanket cross the metropolis.

A senior official who spoke to The Nation on the condition of anonymity said the police would follow the orders of the caretaker government while implementing the security strategy. “Police will not decide alone about any operation or crackdown on the political workers. It is up to the caretakers to decide how the protesters should be dealt with. The police will follow guidelines,” the official said.

He said the city police would be placed on high-alert on the coming Friday with massive deployment of force including the anti-riot units around key government installations, markets, shopping malls, and on leadings roads. The police patrolling units will continue armed patrolling in the sensitive and most sensitive areas. Similarly, snap-checking will be intensified across the metropolis particularly at all the entry and exit points.

Hundreds police commandoes will also be deployed around the Lahore airport in addition to anti-riot force and police response units. Plainclothesmen will also be deployed among the crowds to keep an eye on the activities of miscreants.

Another official said the police would use different techniques to counter protesters including roadblocks and placing large-size containers to disrupt the movement of protesters on city roads. Also, authorities would seal the airport premises for general public and all roads leading towards the airport could be blocked with the help of heavy containers.



PML-N doves doing it half-heratedly

Party sources in Islamabad said the PML-N has decided to use the return of Nawaz and Maryam for giving a boost to the party’s election campaign.

The leaders were initially divided over playing with the return of Nawaz and Maryam but, as usual, the hawks in the party prevailed and it was decided that they would stage a big power show at the airport.

Sources further informed that a good number of people including party leaders and media persons would be accompanying Nawaz Sharif on the same flight to give him an appropriate coverage as it was generally believed that both of them would be arrested from the airport and would not be allowed to move out to lead the party procession or address them.

Party insiders said that some media persons would be invited from Pakistan to accompany Nawaz Sharif on his return journey but the proposal was yet to be finalised.

Most likely both of them would be shifted to Islamabad after their arrest at the Lahore airport as following the conviction of someone in corruption case he or she is not entitled to protected or transit bail, legal experts opined, adding after conviction the convicted person is liable to immediate arrest and the same law would be applicable to them.

Sources in the party confirmed that even knowing the possibility of their arrest at the airport and their likely shifting to Islamabad on next available flight the PML-N leadership would make a big power show at airport just to give a message to their voters and activists across the country to hold the ground and vote for their candidates.

Sources in the party confirmed that though party chief Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz were in the lead role in making arrangements for the power showdown at the airport on return of Nawaz and Maryam but they were doing all this out of compulsion as Shehbaz Sharif was following the narrative of not taking hostile line against the institutions and still wanted to tread conciliatory course.

But the hawks in the party were dominating and were taking direct instructions from party Quaid on key policy matters and ultimately Shehbaz and others who did not want to confront establishment have to follow the course.

Sources said that drama staged by Capt(r) Safdar before his arrest in Rawalpindi on Sunday was also done through directions from London to some local party leaders - including Senator Tanvir Khan - whereas the central party leadership in Lahore including Shehbaz Sharif kept mum about it.

Sources in the party said that Nawaz was not unhappy over the mild tone with which the party president Shehbaz Sharif criticised his conviction.

In the face of weak position taken by Shehbaz that Nawaz Sharif has to rely on the team of hawks led by Maryam Nawaz to go for a big show of power on their landing back in their hometown on Friday next.

A senior party leader who did not want to be named said that they know Nawaz could be sent to jail directly from airport without letting him address party workers but their gathering in Lahore would give a boost to their overall election campaign.

Sources in NAB said that they have already constituted teams for the arrest of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter on their return and they would deal with the situation accordingly after their arrest.

These sources said that both of them would likely be shifted to Islamabad and after completing the legal formalities both of them would be sent to Adiala Jail like Capt Safdar who was arrested from Rawalpindi Sunday afternoon.



historic reception awaits Nawaz: Marriyum

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurengzeb said yesterday that a historic reception awaits Nawaz Sharif and his daughter in Lahore.

They are coming back to the country for the sake of democracy, the constitution and fearing none but Almighty Allah only while leaving seriously ill Begum Kalsoom behind, Marriyum told the media in Lahore.

She said Nawaz Sharif’s return is also a continuation of his struggle for establishing respect of vote in the country. She asked the people from cross section to reach the airport to on Friday to receive their leaders who are also struggling to protect their fundamental rights.

She counted Nawaz Sharif achievements and regretted that former dictator Pervez Musharrraf who grossly violated the constitution, was scot free despite serious charges. She said Nawaz Sharif made the country a nuclear power, gave infrastructure, CPEC to the nation and remarkably completed energy projects and ended terrorism has been penalized. But he has not accepted the defeat and is in the field for the sake of the masses and their rights which had been trampled over the decades. Marriyum also slammed the ransacking at the London house of the Sharifs by the members of a political party.

To a question Marriyum suggested for putting ban on the steps which render the judicial decisions controversial. She also called for probe into the allegations levelled by PTI chairman Imran Khan about the involvement of army in the elections 2013.



PML-N planning mega reception for Sharifs

| NAB DG asks for copter to airlift Nawaz, Maryam from airport to jail |

Plane could also be diverted to Islamabad |

Police say caretakers to decide on blocking activists’ way