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According to reporter accompanying Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to Lahore, where they are expected to be arrested on arrival, their flight was delayed by over two hours.

The welcome announced by new party president and Nawaz's younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif did not go down well with the "powers that be" and "hundreds of party workers were reportedly taken into custody from Lahore and some other cities till Thursday night" under the MPO [Maintenance of Public Order] law. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Sharif, has been one of the country's leading politicians for most of the past 30 years.

Sharif's return from London, where his wife Kulsoom is critically ill and undergoing cancer treatment, comes at a time of dwindling fortunes for his party, which a year ago was considered a run-away favourite to retain power. They will then be taken to Islamabad by helicopter and ferried to Adiala jail.

Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif flew home Friday to start a 10-year prison sentence on a day when a bombing at an election rally killed at least 70 people, heightening security concerns for the country's already fraught national elections.

Upon their arrival at Lahore airport, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team confiscated their passports.

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gestures as he boards a Lahore-bound flight due for departure, at Abu Dhabi International Airport, UAE July 13, 2018.

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Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in jail and Maryam 7 years jail term.

The armed forces, which have directly ruled Pakistan for nearly half of its existence, have repeatedly denied interfering in the election.

A police official who asked not to be identified said more than 100 PML-N workers had been detained.

The two PML (N) leaders are returning to Pakistan to face a prison sentence handed out on July 6 by an accountability court in the Avenfield properties case, one of the three corruption cases against him following the Panama Papers scandal. They both deny wrongdoing. It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a "free and fair" elections, it added. Many PML-N lawmakers have also defected to Khan's party.

PML-N has also been shaken by internal divisions.

The defiant leader questioned the credibility of the July 25 polls amid a crackdown on his supporters.


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