LONDON: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz Sharif, reunited in London after three years as she arrived on Thursday in the United Kingdom to spend a month with her father, who has been in London since November 2019.
Ms Sharif will reportedly undergo a medical procedure during this visit, and speculations are high that she and Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan together.
Ms Sharif was greeted at the airport by her son, Junaid Safdar, and brother Hassan. Shortly after, a photograph of the brother and sister hugging each other emerged on social media.
Supporters of PML-N waited for Ms Sharif at Heathrow Airport’s arrival area, but were met by PTI supporters who had gathered there to chant slogans. A heated exchange took place between the two, with members of both sides insulting each other with abusive language. The dramatic exchange took place between diehard supporters of both parties, who in recent months have had several aggressive encounters.
PTI, PML-N workers get into shouting match at Heathrow
Ms Sharif, however, left the airport via a different exit.
Outside the Avenfield House, hundreds of PML-N workers lined the entrance of Dunraven Street awaiting Ms Sharif’s arrival. Some played the dhol, while others danced and chanted “Teri awaz, meri awaz (your voice, my voice) Maryam Nawaz” and “welcome, welcome”.
One worker distributed sweets, saying “we are celebrating [the arrival of] our leader”. “If there is any PTI member, please give them sweets too as today is a happy day,” he added.
Met Police officers in high-visibility jackets dotted the scene, which has often been the site of face-offs between the supporters of PTI and PML-N.
As she reached Avenfield House, a crush of people surrounded her vehicle. She was embraced at the entrance of the building by her brother Hussain. Ms Sharif thanked supporters and went inside to meet her father and other family members.
Ms Sharif’s visit to London marks the first time she has met her brothers, Hussain and Hassan, since the passing of their mother Kulsoom Nawaz in 2019. She is scheduled to return to Pakistan by Nov 6.
Ms Sharif’s passport was returned to her after an order by the Lahore High Court, which had given her bail in 2019 in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case after she surrendered her passport. The passport was returned just days after the Islamabad High Court set aside her conviction in the Avenfield case. She arrived in London on Thursday evening after a stopover in Doha.
Prior to her arrival, Nawaz Sharif thanked supporters who had gathered outside Hussain’s office in Stanhope House to welcome the daughter of their leader.
A day earlier, Hussain Nawaz while speaking to reporters said, “The last time I met my sister was when she left with Mian sb for Pakistan, where upon arrival at Lahore airport she was arrested. Since then, we have borne the devastating losses of our mother, our grandmother, but we endured those tragedies apart from each other.
“It was heart wrenching to see her [Ms Sharif] go to jail because of Imran Khan and his government. It is painful for any brother to see his sister go through that. When she arrives, we will talk to each other and share our grief.”
Kulsoom Nawaz passed away in London in September 2018, while the former premier and Ms Sharif were incarcerated at Adiala Jail. They were allowed to attend Kulsoom Nawaz’s final rites in Lahore on parole.
Prior to her departure for London, Ms Sharif was seen at the Lahore airport entrance saying, “I can’t wait for the moment that my plane lands and I meet my father.”
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022