Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently lodged in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, has made an emotional appeal to the citizens of his country to exercise their franchise in large numbers and respect the vote, ahead of the general elections on July 25.
In a audio message, reportedly recorded in London, which surfaced on social media today, Nawaz Sharif urged voters to make July 25 a memorable day.
Sharif said, "Give respect to your vote. Pick up the national flag and go out [to vote in large numbers]. Make July 25 a memorable day. Spread my message across the homes, streets and villages [of the country]. Those who dishonour the power of vote, defeat those conspiring such plans so that they will hang their heads in shame."
He urged the people to pray for the speedy recovery of his ailing wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, who is undergoing treatment for cancer and expressed sorrow that he had to leave her in such a critical condition.
Sharif said despite being put behind bars and attempts to muzzle his voice, the relations and strong bondage between him and the people of Pakistan would never be broken.
"I have been kept in jail to keep me away from you all. Even my daughter and nation's daughter Maryam [Nawaz] is also in jail. These people don't know that despite putting me in jail, they will never destroy the strong bond between me and you. Neither the dictators of yesterday were able to break this bond, nor those who will pull the strings on the relationship between you and me will be crushed in the future," he added.
Taking on the previous governments in Pakistan, the three-time former prime minister said that the entire nation was converted into a "big prison", while he urged the people of the country to break the shackles and free themselves.
Earlier on Saturday, Maryam also conveyed an emotional message to her supporters.
In an audio message, she appealed to the people of Pakistan to keep the preparations of upcoming general elections underway, saying, "raise the worth of the country, raise the worth of your vote."
"Had I not been in a jail, I would have been fighting with you all and now that I am imprisoned, I still am with you every moment. Your daughter appeals to you to keep the preparation of the elections underway," Maryam said.
She added she is not serving the jail term because she has committed a crime, but rather because she was the "daughter of Nawaz Sharif."
"I am not here because I have committed a crime but because I am Nawaz Sharif's daughter. I am a daughter of a brave father. A brave daughter of brave nation. They wanted me to be Nawaz Sharif's weakness, rather I emerged as his strength," Maryam said.
On July 6, the father and daughter were convicted in the Avenfield reference case by the Accountability Court. While Nawaz Sharif has been given 10 years of imprisonment and fined eight million pounds, his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years in jail and fined two million pounds.
The case pertains to the purchase of Avenfield apartments through offshore companies, the beneficial owner of which was Maryam.
Maryam and Nawaz were in London for a month to meet the former premier's ailing wife Kulsoom. On arriving at Lahore's Allama Iqbal Airport from London, they were arrested on July 14 and were taken to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi in a special chartered flight.
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