Nawaz back in jail


–Ousted PM jumps deadline by an hour

–Maryam, Hamza, other PML-N leaders accompany former premier to jail

–Jail authorities take Nawaz into custody amid slogans by party workers

LAHORE: Ousted prime minister and supreme leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Nawaz Sharif turned himself in at Lahore’s Kot Lakhtpat Jail around 1 am on Wednesday although his six-week bail expired on Tuesday midnight.

Upon arrival at the jail, the former premier thanked party workers for the support they extended to him.

Soon after breaking fast, Nawaz, flanked by party leaders and workers departed from his Jati Umra residence for Kot Lakhpat Jail. An interesting episode was seen during his departure when the former premier broke the family tradition and allowed his daughter Maryam to ride in the front seat while he himself sat in the back as his nephew Hamza Shehbaz drove the car although he swapped places with her later.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former defence minister Khawaja Asif and other senior party leaders were also part of the procession which accompanied the former premier to jail. Throughout the way, party workers chanted slogans and held placards and posters featuring Nawaz’s pictures.

Meanwhile, at Kot Lakhpat Jail, a controversy stirred when the jail superintendent said that the former premier did not report back to jail in time, therefore, the lockup had been closed for the night.

“The authorities will not receive him now that he is late,” the superintendent said, adding that jail authorities were awaiting the decision of the Punjab Home Department over the issue.

Later, the Punjab Home Department issued orders allowing Nawaz to turn himself in.

Earlier in the day, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that people would come out to say goodbye to their leader as per the scheduled programme. She also warned that the federal and provincial governments would be responsible if the rallies to express solidarity with the former premier are disrupted. She further said that the party’s central executive committee had decided to hold the rally.

PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Asma Zahid Bukhari said that the process was not a ‘power show’ by the party and the people were only gathering out of affection for the PML-N supremo.

PML-N MPA Saiful Mulook said that the party had not given a call to its workers to show up for the procession.

On Monday, Hamza chaired a consultative meeting at the party’s secretariat in Model Town to finalise the arrangements for the rally. It was decided in the meeting that both Maryam and Hamza would accompany the former premier to the jail and will stay with him until the jail authorities take him into custody.

Nawaz was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Rs1.5 billion in the Al-Azizia corruption reference by the Supreme Court (SC) on December 24, 2018. He was originally imprisoned at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi but was shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore at his request.

Following several episodes of decaying health, the apex court granted a six-week bail to the former premier on medical grounds. While out on bail, Nawaz moved a petition in the court, seeking an extension in bail but his plea was rejected.

Pictures by Zubair Mehfooz