Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Shariz left for his hometown Lahore from Punjab House in Islamabad via Grand Trunk Road in a bid to exhibit his popularity among the masses. Sharif embarked on the journey after meeting top officials of his party and Prime Minister Shahid Khawan Abbasi, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Abid Sher Ali, Dawn News reported. Tight security has been reportedly deployed along the GT Road.
The report said a crowd of around 5,000 was expected to accompany Sharif who will lead the procession that will move to its first stop at D-Chowk. The report said Sharif’s rally will move slowly through elaborate reception plans and is scheduled to arrive in Lahore by Thursday.
Citing security concerns over a bomb blast in Punjab province, Sharif has been warned by his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and also Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to avoid taking the road route. However, the former prime minister said this is not a protest and simply a journey back home and that he is undertaking because “risks need to be taken for the country”.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has alleged that the state was being exploited to make the former prime minister’s return historic.
“Nawaz Sharif’s plan to travel to Lahore in a cavalcade on GT Road is a deliberate attempt to continue undermining the Supreme Court of Pakistan by calling into question its decision on the Panama case,” said Khan on Twitter on Sunday.
Dawn also quoted PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan said: “The Punjab government is using all its resources to make the show (Nawaz’s return to Lahore) a success.” Similar reservations were expressed by Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid who said the procession was an attempt at seeking a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) from the army.
Former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf had promulgated the NRO during his regime. It provides amnesty to politicians, bureaucrats, political workers etc who had been alleged of corruption, murder, terrorism, money laundering etc.
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday asked Nawaz to be removed from the position of chief of his party Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). After his arrival in Lahore, he is expected to announce the candidate for the NA-120 seat vacated due to his ouster.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from the position of Prime Minister in the Panama Papers investigation. The court found Sharif “unfit to hold office” and that he had been “dishonest to the parliament and the courts in not disclosing in the Dubai-based Capital FZE company in his 2013 nomination papers.”