Ousted Pakistan PM flies home to face jail

By AAP Newswire

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, both sentenced to lengthy jail terms, are due to return to Pakistan in a high-stakes gamble to galvanise their party ahead of a July 25 election.

Thousands of police were deployed in Lahore on Friday afternoon and shipping containers placed along main roads to block protesters moving towards the airport, where Sharif is expected to land.

Local police official Naveed Shah said his orders did not include restricting people's movements but that could change when supporters of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party take to the streets.

PML-N loyalists have said they will march to the airport in defiance of a ban on all public rallies.

Sharif is returning from Britain one week after an anti-corruption court handed him a 10-year jail term in absentia over the purchase of luxury London flats and sentenced his daughter and heir to seven years in prison.

Their return could shake up an election race marred by claims Pakistan's powerful military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favour of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan.

Sharif alleges the military is aiding a "judicial witchhunt" against him and PML-N.

The party's past five years in power has been punctuated by the civil-military discord that has plagued Pakistan since its inception.

The opposition Pakistan People Party also alleges "pre-poll rigging" but hasn't specifically named the armed forces.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since 1947, has denied interfering in modern-day politics.

It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a "free and fair" elections, an army spokesman said this week.