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Nawaz Sharif back to jail

08 May, 2019

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Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif entered the premises of the Kot Lakhpat Jail after travelling to the prison along with thousands of his supporters and party leaders on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday after the expiry of his six-week bail period in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference.

Ahead of his arrival at the prison, Nawaz thanked his supporters for accompanying him to jail at midnight. “I do not have the words to thank you for the passionate way in which you welcomed me,” he said.

“I understand that their passion and prayers will bear fruit… And God willing, this dark night of tyranny will come to an end. I have no doubt about this.”

He said he would be rid of the dark prison cell through the prayers of his supporters. “I know that they understand what I am being punished for.”

Earlier, Nawaz had left his Jati Umra residence for the jail with a procession of PML-N workers led by Maryam Nawaz at around 8:30pm.

The PML-N supremo was supposed to reach the prison before midnight, but his motorcade progressed slowly because of the traffic jam caused by supporters’ presence, and reached the jail after 12:15am.

The former prime minister, who is heading back to the penitentiary, left his residence in Lahore after breaking his fast. In what was a departure from family tradition, Nawaz let Maryam take the front seat and himself rode in the back, although the two swapped places later.

Nawaz entered his car amid chants in his favour by PML-N workers, who were also holding placards and posters featuring his pictures.

Also part of Nawaz’s entourage were several party leaders, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former defence minister Khawaja Asif and Punjab Assembly opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz, who drove his car.

Meanwhile, Kot Lakhpat Jail’s superintendent said that since Nawaz did not report back to jail in time, the lockup had been closed for the night and jail authorities would not receive him.

“A letter has been handed over to Jati Umra’s security staff,” the official said, adding that now “we await the Home Department’s special orders”, on the basis of which a decision would be made.

A party leader told a private news channel that the procession would serve as a response to critics of the party who believe that the PML-N had lost the ability to mobilise support in the streets. The official also said the party cadre was directed to mobilise the masses and make arrangements for Iftar for those who were likely to join the procession.

PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Asma Zahid Bukhari had dismissed the impression that the procession was a ‘power show’ and said that people would show up out of affection for their leader, while MPA Saiful Mulook claimed that no call had been given to workers for the planned event.

On Monday, the former premier’s daughter Maryam Nawaz had shared a new profile picture on Twitter on her father’s return to Kot Lakhpat.

On April 30, Nawaz had filed an application in the apex court, seeking an extension to his six-week bail until the verdict on his review petition concerning a March 26 order, through which Nawaz sought permission to leave the country.

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