Thousands attend ousted Nawaz’s homegoing rally

Published: August 10, 2017
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Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a rally from his bullet-proof container in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP

Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a rally from his bullet-proof container in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP

Supporters and activists of ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif march with him in a rally in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a rally from his bullet-proof container in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP A supporter of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif holds his picture as he waits for his convoy to pass through in Rawalpindi, Pakistan August 10, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a rally from his bullet-proof container in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of people attended a rally and procession in support of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday as he embarks on a show of political power following a Supreme Court decision to disqualify him from office over undeclared assets.

Nawaz launched the so-called “caravan” procession from Islamabad to his hometown of Lahore, despite the concerns of advisers about security. After being driven 12 hours surrounded by supporters showering his vehicle with rose petals from capital Islamabad to the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi, normally a 30 minute drive, Nawaz addressed the crowd shortly after midnight.

Nawaz says people of Pakistan have rejected his disqualification

“One court has given its decision, now this court will make a decision, the court of the people of Pakistan,” Sharif said, asking the crowd if they accept the Supreme Court’s decision, a question that elicited a loud “No” from his supporters.

A supporter of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif holds his picture as he waits for his convoy to pass through in Rawalpindi, Pakistan August 10, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

A supporter of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif holds his picture as he waits for his convoy to pass through in Rawalpindi, Pakistan August 10, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

“Nawaz Sharif is still our prime minister,” said worker Niaz Ahmad, who wore a lion look-alike costume and chanted, “Lion, Lion!” referring to the election symbol of Sharif’s political party.

The event remained largely peaceful, though Nawaz’s supporters assaulted the crew of two local TV stations that had been critical of him during the court proceedings, police official Hafeez Khan said. “No prime minister has ever seen out the full term of his government,” Nawaz said. He then asked the crowd: “Were these prime ministers not the people’s choice? When will the people’s mandate be respected?” adding that this joke has been repeated in Pakistan for 70 years.

Pakistan will celebrate 70 years of independence from British rule on August 14 but the country has never had a full term prime minister with numerous governments being interrupted by either military coups, judicial disqualification, or presidential decree.

Nawaz, 67, resigned during his third stint as prime minister after the Supreme Court ruled on July 28 that he should be disqualified and ordered a criminal probe into his family over allegations stemming from the “Panama Papers” leaks of international offshore companies.

Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a rally from his bullet-proof container in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP

Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a rally from his bullet-proof container in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP

Sharif all set to lead ‘homegoing’ rally today

The new prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a close Sharif ally, said the former leader was alert to security threats. “The bigger a leader is, the bigger the threat is,” Abbasi told a private news channel.

Nawaz was seen off in Islamabad by Abbasi, the new cabinet and other party officials, his political adviser Asif Kirmani said.

A huge crowd gathered for his journey along the Grand Trunk Road bridging the 380 km between Islamabad and Lahore.

Nawaz, in recent meetings with party leaders, lawyers and the media, has expressed his displeasure over the court ruling. He has said no corruption charges had been proved, and it was unfair to disqualify him on the grounds of not having declared a salary from his son’s Dubai-based company among a list of assets submitted ahead of the 2013 elections that brought him to power.

Women participants conspicuous by their absence

Nawaz’s governing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, which has a solid majority in parliament, elected Abbasi as his replacement within four days of the court decision. Party leaders have recently suggested that Abbasi will hold office until elections due next year, a reversal of earlier indications that Sharif’s younger brother, Shehbaz, would take over. Shehbaz is now likely to replace his brother as party chief because law bars convicted or disqualified persons from leading a political party.

Supporters and activists of ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif march with him in a rally in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP

Supporters and activists of ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif march with him in a rally in Rawalpindi on August 9, 2017. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading a rally from the capital Islamabad to his home in Lahore, following his ouster by the Supreme Court following a corruption probe. PHOTO: AFP

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Reader Comments (4)

  • chengez k
    Aug 10, 2017 - 11:10AM

    That was not a huge rally…..most estimates put it less than 9,000 people…Nawaz Sharif had to stop his rally in Pindi as he wants to gather more people before moving further.Recommend

  • asim
    Aug 10, 2017 - 11:55AM

    someone who has been found corrupt is openly challenging the verdict of the supreme court of this country.Recommend

  • AQ
    Aug 10, 2017 - 1:10PM

    HE should be in jails instead of roads, a criminal of his caliber usually gets death sentence in a country that has some value to justice and people. Wish same for him soon.Recommend

  • Baba
    Aug 10, 2017 - 1:27PM

    I saw the crowd and it did not look that big I’d say under 5KRecommend

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