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RAWALPINDI: The government has made three plans for the arrest of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz upon their arrival in Pakistan on Friday aimed at avoiding public gatherings and maintaining peace.

Sharif and Maryam are expected to arrive in Lahore at 6:15p.m on Friday on board Etihad Airways flight EY-0243.

Sources said Plan A focuses on the possibility that their flight may be diverted to Islamabad due to bad weather conditions, where they will be arrested by a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team at Islamabad International Airport (IIA).

Roads to IIA to be sealed in anticipation of rally to welcome convicted PML-N leaders

They will then be flown to Central Jail Adiala by helicopter, sources said. If the weather is not suitable for a helicopter ride, they will be driven to Attock jail, which is closest to the airport.

A team of senior NAB officials visited IIA Thursday night and met with the ASF chief security officer and Rawalpindi city police officer to review the expected arrival of Sharif and Maryam on Friday.

According to sources, after the meeting was over, NAB officials and security officials visited the apron-domestic cargo side and reviewed various options to arrest the former prime minister and his daughter and take them to Adiala jail or the nearest prison facility.

Sources said the NAB team arrived at IIA in the evening and went into a session with the airport manager, chief security officer, CPO Abbas Ahsan, deputy commissioner, senior superintendent of police operations and other police officials.

On Wednesday night, Rawalpindi Commissioner Dr Umer Jehangir and City Police Officer Abbas Ahsan visited the airport’s apron and cargo area, where a helicopter may be parked to take Sharif and Maryam to Adiala jail.

Under Plan B, the former prime minister will be allowed to land at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore and then flown to Islamabad either by a small plane or by helicopter. Upon landing at IIA, Sharif and Maryam will either be flown to Adiala or driven to Attock.

According to Plan C, in the event of bad weather given the forecast for heavy rain on Friday, the former prime minister’s plane will land at Allama Iqbal International Airport according to the flight schedule, and Sharif and Maryam will be taken to Kot Lakhpat jail.

Sources said senior security officials are seriously working on Plan A as they believe it would allow them to avoid a public gathering in Lahore, where the PML-N is planning to welcome Sharif and Maryam.

Prison arrangements

A senior prison department official said former VVIPs and VIPs are given ‘better class’ jail facilities but it is up to the provincial government to decide whether Maryam will be housed in the women’s barracks or separately, as she does not fall in the category of VIP or government official.

Sources said security officials believe that Sharif and Maryam will be flown to Adiala before they are formally arrested by NAB, and NAB court officials will be set up at the prison to arrest them. Special courts are established inside jails for security reasons in many high profile cases, and this could also occur in Sharif’s case.

Law enforcement on Thursday conducted a three-hour search operation in the areas surrounding Adiala jail during which they searched 254 homes. The barracks of Adiala jail were also searched.

A senior district administration official told Dawn that the administration has made arrangements for the provision of medicines, water and uninterrupted electricity at Adiala jail, as well as to land a helicopter in the prison premises.

Roads to IIA to be sealed

The police have prepared a contingency plan to maintain law and order in the city and prevent PML-N leaders and workers from reaching IIA.

Roads leading to the airport are expected to be virtually sealed on Friday. Large shipping containers will be placed on roads leading to IIA, along with deployments of riot police at the sealed points.

Although the police had planned to deploy 63 police reserves of 20 personnel each, only 28 are available due to a shortage of manpower.

The senior district administration official said the administration had been asked to put hospitals on high alert in case of emergency, and to make arrangements for the local police to clear the roads from the Motorway to Adiala as Sharif and Maryam may travel by road on the Motorway.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Sara Hayat said the district administration had not received any orders to stop PML-N workers from going to Lahore.

“The administration is making arrangements to ensure the provision of medicines in the jail hospital, a helicopter pad and other facilities in the jail premises,” she said.

‘Party has finalised plan to lead rally to Lahore’

Meanwhile, the PML-N is making arrangements to lead a rally from Rawalpindi to Lahore from Murree Road to welcome Sharif.

PML-N Metropolitan president Sardar Naseem told Dawn the party had finalised its plan to lead a rally from its 6th Road elections office to Lahore, which will leave at 8a.m.

“The police had picked up former MPA Shaukat Bhatti and other party workers from various areas, so we asked workers to lay low until they go to Lahore. The party made a Plan B to bring the rally to Lahore at any cost, and directed all election candidates from the city areas to come to the 6th Road elections office,” Mr Naseem said.

He said the PML-N condemned the caretaker government for taking action against party workers, adding that workers would not hesitate to welcome their leader Sharif and Maryam.

He added that party workers were in touch with the party through social media.

“If the police and administration try to stop the rally, we will take a decision according to the situation,” he said.

Party leaders will lead workers from their constituencies and union councils, while transport has already been arranged.

“The cantonment areas’ party workers and supporters will join the main rally at Motorway Chowk led by Malik Abrar and other senior leaders,” Mr Naseem said. The party rallies from Attock will join the main rally at the Chakri interchange, and the s rally will stay there to include the rallies from Attock and nearby areas.

He added that party workers would come back to Adiala jail for Sharif’s arrival.

Former MPA Raja Hanif told Dawn the party’s workers were ready to travel to Lahore to welcome Sharif. He said workers would come together at 6th Road, adding: “There is also Plan B, which will be disclosed if the workers are stopped from going to Lahore.”

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018

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