Pakistani police on October 5 filed sedition charges against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his party days before opposition rallies aimed at toppling the government.
Police in the eastern city of Lahore registered the charges against Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and more than 40 other leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party.
"Nawaz Sharif, a convicted person, is maligning institutions and provoking the masses to rebel against the army and the government through his speeches from London," police said in a statement.
Sharif also stands accused of conspiring against the country and attempting to denigrate Pakistan as a "rogue state."
Sharif had been serving a jail term on corruption charges, but the 70-year-old was granted bail on medical grounds and traveled to the United Kingdom for emergency treatment last November.
"Sedition charges cannot stop [the] opposition's movement for restoration of democracy in the country," PML-N spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb, who was also charged, said in a statement.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of opposition parties, is planning a wave of rallies and protests beginning this month aimed at toppling the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Hard-line politician Maulana Fazalur Rehman, head of the Sunni Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, has been appointed head of the anti-government alliance.
Several opposition leaders, rights activists, and journalists have been arrested in Pakistan since Khan's government took power following controversial elections in 2018 that were marred by allegations of interference by the powerful military.