Sharif hints he may be arrested, jailed

Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif indicated on Wednesday that authorities were preparing to arrest him amid growing strains between his ruling PML-N party and the powerful military establishment.

Analysts believe Sharif is facing possibly the greatest challenge to his leadership in the wake of his disqualification last year by the Supreme Court for dishonesty. Analysts also say Sharif is convinced he is being framed by the military establishment so that the PML-N does not fare well in elections later this year.

“Adiala Jail (in Rawalpindi) is being cleaned up as if to welcome someone, how do they know someone’s coming?” Sharif told reporters outside an anti-corruption court that was hearing a case against him.He alleged the Supreme Court had ordered anti-corruption courts to wrap up cases against him pertaining to the Panama Papers leaks and to announce a “strict punishment”.

But that is just one challenge the PML-N is facing. A bigger issue is the defection of a growing number of leaders of his party, apparently at the behest of the intelligence agencies.

Members of the Sheerazi group of the PML-N and some lawmakers from southern Sindh province were the latest MPs to leave the party and join Imran Khan‘s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Local media reported that lawmaker Ramesh Kumar, who left the PML-N to join the PTI a few days ago, had been tasked by the PTI leadership to woo dissident lawmakers from other parties, the PML-N in particular.

Similar defections are being seen in southern Punjab, where PML-N MPs are also defecting. Observers said financial and other incentives were being offered to the defectors.

The PML-N witnessed the defection of eight lawmakers from southern Punjab recently. Analysts said the PML-N is facing the wrath of the military establishment, which does not want it to score a convincing victory in the forthcoming polls.