More than 100 people were arrested in his stronghold of Lahore where he has called on crowds to meet him when he touches down from London on Friday evening.
Uniformed men escorted the Sharifs, who were sentenced in absentia on corruption charges last week, off the commercial flight, and a spokesman for their Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party confirmed they were arrested soon afterward.
Mr Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years while his daughter Maryam was given seven years after corruption charges.
It comes as Pakistan is in the midst of a hectic campaign for the general and provincial elections in two weeks' time which turned violent when 10 people were killed by a suicide bomber in south west Pakistan on Friday.
Their passports were confiscated and subsequently boarded onto a small chartered plane bound for Islamabad International Airport (IIA), The Dawn reported. He said that during PML-N tenure, Pakistan had overcome terrorism and power load -shedding.
Their return could shake up an election race marred by accusations Pakistan's powerful military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favour of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan, who describes Sharif as a "criminal" who deserves no support.
They plan to block roads with shipping containers to stop a large rally by Nawaz supporters, who were planning to march to the airport despite a ban.
Meghan Markle's Ireland Tour Makeup Routine Is So Shocking
Ahead of the outing, Markle did a quick outfit change and emerged with a strikingly different look from her first. Her dress - particularly the classic Roland Mouret piece she wore yesterday to the Aras an Uachtarain in Ireland.
Oxford-educated Khan spoke in an interview on Friday as his arch foe, ousted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was due to return to the country and be arrested on a conviction that was handed down by an anti-graft court last week.
The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since 1947, has denied interfering in modern-day politics.
"Nawaz really believes this is about democracy and his legacy", Musadik Malik, Sharif ally and former PML-N cabinet minister, told Reuters. The two were in London visiting Sharif's ailing wife when a Pakistani court convicted them of corruption and sent them to prison. Sharif has been one of the country's leading politicians for most of the past 30 years. A team of doctors conducted the medical checkup of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz and declared them fit.
Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court previous year in the Panama Papers case. But the veteran politician has ensured that each moment of his return delivers him returns in limelight and column inches, including him leaving behind wife Kulsoom who is on ventilator support following surgery for throat cancer in the United Kingdom and his leaving a country that offered him comfort and safety he is bound to be denied (or at least not ensured) in his home country.
On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.
The PML-N had been seen as favourites for re-election until recently but have appeared to lose ground to Imran Khan. Access to the internet and mobile phone services were also blocked and several workers of the PML-N taken into preventive custody on flimsy public-order offences.
Chaudhry Parvez Elahi has said that the PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif is habitual of holding administration responsible for his failure and bad intention.