Nawaz addresses crowd at Committee Chowk, stays the night in Rawalpindi

  • Nisar absent from Nawaz farewell, rally
  • Nawaz says support me for Pakistan’s prosperity

ISLAMABAD: “People have rejected the [Supreme] court’s decision. That was a court’s decision. This is the people’s decision”, said Nawaz Sharif, while addressing the gathering at Committee Chowk, Rawalpindi, Wednesday late night.  He added that Supreme Court’s decision to sack him was a violation of people’s mandate.

Rawalpindi was the culmination point of Tuesday’s portion of the longer Lahore-bound journey, during which the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is expected to show strength across its electoral strongholds of central and north Punjab.

Nawaz said Rawalpindi holds a crucial importance in the political arena of the country, adding, “Rawalpindi is my city and I see a revolution here”.

“No corruption case has been proved against me. I have been disqualified for not taking salary from my son.”

“I have no desire for power. You will have to support me, not to restore me as PM, but for Pakistan’s prosperity.”

He also talked about the development and power projects and said that due to his efforts, load-shedding will finish by next year.

He mentioned his political rivals, mentioning the sit-in politics of Imran Khan. He also questioned why Tahir-ul-Qadri had returned to Pakistan.

“I will strive to rid the country of all problems. I’m a patriot. Will you support Nawaz Sharif to change the fate of this country?” he asked the crowd.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who left Islamabad yesterday to set out on the historic PML-N rally, has decided to stay the night at the Punjab House. The procession was supposed to reach Jhelum but due to massive crowds, it was decided by the party leadership to stop in Rawalpindi.

Nawaz left for Lahore via the GT Road around noon. The rally was reported to have at least seven to ten thousand people with 900 to 1000 cars. According to other reports, the front of the rally was at Chandani Chowk while the rear was at Rehmanabad—an approx distance of two kilometres.

Initially, the top leadership of the PML-N decided to wait for their supporters—as fair weather forecast could have brought out a larger crowd—which led to a delay in the rally, reportedly.

However, a large number of PML-N supporters thronged the ruling party’s power-show, chanting slogans in favour of the party and Nawaz. It took six hours to complete the journey which normally takes ten minutes. Nawaz also waved at the supporters to show his gratitude.

The crowd was accompanied by 5 PML-N MNAs, 8MPs, Islamabad mayor, Rawalpindi mayor, scores of local government representatives and federal government employees.

Murree Road

The rally has reached Faizabad. Nawaz examined the arrangements of the bomb-proof container specially prepared for the rally. Nawaz was also seen shifting between customised container and his personal vehicle. He is accompanied by PML-N leaders Parvaiz Rasheed and Saad Rafique.

The roads, which were earlier blocked by the traffic police, opened as the rally crossed Faizabad on its way to Murree Road. According to sources, the reason behind this was to let the public mingle with the rally in order to increase its size. A stage has been set up at Committee Chowk where PML-N leaders are expected to address their supporters.

Committee Chowk was the caravan’s first stop on its way to Lahore, reported APP.

Addressing the gatherers along the way, Nawaz appreciates Shehbaz Sharif, saying that the chief minister of Punjab has made Pakistan a role model. “He has so much to do; he will do much more for Pakistan.” Shehbaz, in reply, expresses his gratitude towards the ex-PM for acknowledging his services.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, while addressing the supporters, says he will remain with the caravan even if it takes a year to reach Lahore and will support his party and leader.

Sharif’s special aide on political affairs, Senator Asif Kirmani, says the route was changed after demands by PML-N’s local leaders and MNAs.

SECURITY

All arrangements were finalised by the local administration along with a deputation of 6,000 security personnel and air surveillance along the route.

The Punjab government had instructed the owners of businesses located along the rally’s route to close their respective offices, shops, restaurants and other establishments ahead of the rally till further orders.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah while confirming the development to media had said that businesses would only close in areas while the rally passes and would be allowed to resume business thereafter to avoid any harm.

The authorities had directed public transport vehicles, ambulances and fire brigades to use alternative routes as it had banned GT Road till August 11.

Emergency has been declared in around 13 hospitals located along the GT Road. The health department had directed all medical and paramedical officials to remain present in the hospitals; whereas mobile health units were directed to have waterproof cameras installed at both the front and the back of the vehicles. Mobile health units had been directed to stay at a distance of 500 metres from the rally.

 

PRE-RALLY

Before the start of the rally, Nawaz met with the senior government officials including PM Abbasi, and members of the federal cabinet and PML-N leaders including Ishaq Dar and Amin Muqam, as he embarked upon the journey. The former PM received a call from Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif before his departure. President Mamnoon Hussain and Nawaz’s daughter Maryam also telephoned him to wish him well for the journey.

Chaudhry Nisar wasn’t present in the Punjab House to see the former prime minister off, according to reports.

D-Chowk was brimming with PML-N supporters as the former prime minister kicked off his journey.

Earlier, according to issued rally plan, the rally would reach D-Chowk from Punjab House, from where it would march towards Faizabad through Blue Area and Zero Point and then towards Lahore via the GT Road from Rawat.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Meanwhile, the international media had also given a broad coverage to the PML-N rally with The New York Times making the headline “Nawaz Sharif, Ousted Pakistani Leader, Leaves Capital — but Not Meekly.” It reported that the rally turnout in Rawalpindi was not upto the party’s expectation but it was huge, with people showering the vehicle of Nawaz Sharif with petals.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Nawaz Sharif on July 28 in a verdict on the Panama Papers leaks scandal.

—along with input from agencies, news desk




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