Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s caravan on Saturday left for Lahore from Gujranwala, where he had stayed overnight after delivering a fiery speech in which he raged against the judges of the Supreme Court.
This is the fourth and last day of his ‘homecoming’ rally that set off from Islamabad on August 9.
He will pass Kamoke on his way from Gujranwala. The caravan will be joined by a rally from Sialkot, led by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif.
Nawaz Sharif’s motorcade sets out for Lahore. — Screengrab
Upon reaching Lahore, Sharif will address supporters at Shahdara Chowk and then at Data Darbar, which will be his final stop.
The motorcade was supposed to leave at 11am, but was delayed till 12:30pm due to unknown reasons.
Lahore prepares a grand welcome
In Lahore, supporters are busy preparing at Shahdara Chowk and Data Darbar to welcome Sharif’s caravan, which is expected to reach by 6pm.
The stage at Shahdara Chowk has been set for Sharif’s speech and LCD screens and floodlights have been installed at the venue. Preparations are also underway at Data Darbar, where Sharif will address his supporters later.
The crowd accompanying the rally on its last day is much larger than it was in the first three days.
Roads in Lahore have been blocked, with traffic running only one-way, and shops will remain closed. Nearly 8,000 police officers are deployed to ensure security in the area while 2,000 traffic wardens will control traffic.
Security forces today arrested a suspicious person from Data Darbar.
The rally started on Wednesday when Sharif left Punjab House, Islamabad to go to Lahore via Grand Trunk (GT) Road, amid strict security. The former premier’s motorcade includes police and elite forces vehicles as well.
On Friday, the third day of his homeward journey, Sharif vowed before a big welcoming crowd to fight back against a “conspiracy” hatched to hinder economic progress and infrastructural development in Pakistan.
“Some people did not like Pakistan’s progress [so they] ousted your elected prime minister on frivolous charges,” he told the mammoth rally along the GT Road in Gujranwala, historically a PML-N stronghold.
PML-N workers had started gathering on the GT Road earlier in the day and the crowd swelled to a huge size by the time Sharif arrived in the city, at around 7pm.
Raging against “conspirators desecrating the sanctity of votes cast by 200 million Pakistanis”, Sharif had asked the crowd whether they supported the Supreme Court’s decision to oust him.
The highly-charged audience shouted, “No.”
Sharif thanked the crowd for their unwavering support and announced that he would remember the rally in Gujranwala for the rest of his life.
Sharif’s rally on Friday was marred by the death of a nine-year-old child near Lalamusa, who was run over by an Elite Forces vehicle part of his convoy.
None of the cars in the convoy had stopped to take account of the child’s injuries, DawnNews had reported.
The child was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. His father had fainted upon seeing his son’s body and had also required medical attention.