Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was convicted in absentia on corruption charges last week while he was in London based on Panama Papers revelations about his extensive real estate holdings in the U.K. which he’s been unable to explain.
Sharif decided to return to Pakistan to give his political party a boost in advance of elections in the country. Presumably he knew that he’d be arrested when he arrived on Etihad flight EY243 in Lahore on Friday night. And that’s no doubt what he wanted to have happen.
Etihad Business Class
He left his wife in London and traveled with his daughter and political heir Maryam. And after a two and a half hour delay prior to the three hour flight, the aircraft touched down and officers boarded the aircraft to take them both into custody.
Here are three videos of Sharif being taken into custody from onboard Etihad’s Boeing 777-300ER business class cabin.
The arrest is having Sharif’s desired and easily predictable effect,
Talat Hussain, a veteran journalist and popular talk show host, said he had never seen such “palpable anger against the establishment” in Lahore. “People have come out in the thousands to endorse Nawaz Sharif,” Mr. Hussain said by phone from Lahore. “There is anger against suppression. Against manipulation. Against blackout.”
Police officers and members of a paramilitary force known as the Rangers clashed with protesters in several cities in Punjab Province, the country’s most populous and a stronghold of Mr. Sharif’s party, as rallies moved toward Lahore. Entry points to Lahore, the former prime minister’s hometown, were blocked with shipping containers.
…Mr. Riaz said crowds of protesters in Lahore reached a little over 10,000 people.
To be sure, the Sharifs are no doubt corrupt. Because they’re high level politicians. In Pakistan. But they’re likely also no more corrupt than other politicians, and that corruption is used as a hammer by their enemies to advance their own (no less corrupt) political purposes. His return to Pakistan allows him to appeal his conviction as well.
Perhaps most notable to me is that Pakistan International Airlines flies London Heathrow – Lahore non-stop three times a week, flies London – Karachi (and on to Lahore) and offers connections from various cities in Europe — in addition to flying Abu Dhabi – Lahore.
Yet the former Prime Minister of Pakistan chose not to fly PIA for his return to the country, preferring Etihad’s business class instead. No doubt he’s well aware that PIA is the worst airline in the world. If you’re going to get arrested, you want to be well-rested.
(HT: One Mile at a Time)