LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) activists were in a charged framed of mind ahead of their leader and former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s return to his hometown.
Workers and supporters of the ruling party started reaching Data Darbar Chowk since late Friday night to avoid any inconvenience due to the increased security in the area. Hundreds of PML-N workers spent their night on the streets near the culminating point of the former premier’s rally. The activists were dancing to party songs and to the beat of the drum; all the while chanting slogans in favour of Nawaz.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, PML-N worker Kamran Butt said his leader would forget all the receptions in other parts of the province after seeing the one in Lahore. “This is his hometown and PML-N Lahore workers have prepared a grand reception to honour their leader,” he added.
Another PML-N worker, Salman Dar, condemned the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) for announcing a verdict against Nawaz. He said that a military ruler had earlier sent Sharif in packing and now the apex court had done the same. Dar termed the SC decision as one against democracy and underscored that that his leader’s ouster had little bearing on the PML-N’s constant struggle to continue strengthening democracy in the country.
PML-N Lahore established dozens of reception camps on the route of the former premier’s rally. Despite tight security arrangements, a large number of party workers gathered at Imamia Colony, Ferozwala, Ravi Bridge, Azadi Chowk and Bhatti Chowk to welcome Sharif to his hometown. They were holding party flags, banners and placards inscribed with slogans singing the praises of Nawaz. At various locations, the ruling party displayed fireworks to celebrate the return of “their lion”.
The festivities were at their height along the route of the PML-N rally. Some activists arranged traditional camel and horse dances, while party leaders and workers slaughtered animals to celebrate the homecoming of their beloved leader.
PML-N leaders, the Lahore mayor, deputy mayors, local government representatives as well as business and trade community leaders decorated the city with banners, streamers and posters; all adorned with the picture of Nawaz.
Supporters had also displayed big portraits of other leaders. Floodlights were installed to keep the area well-lit due to security reasons as the rally of Nawaz was not expected to reach the capital till evening.
On directions of the provincial and district governments, the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) and city administration had made special arrangements for the PML-N rally. The company washed all footpaths and streets on the rally route on Friday night, while the city administration repainted curbstones.
Federal and provincial ministers, including Pervaiz Malik, Bilal Yasin, Lahore Lord Mayor Colonel (retd) Mubashir Javed, deputy mayors and other local leaders of the party paid personal attention to all arrangements. In fact, they were spotted at the venue throughout the entire day, despite the hot and humid weather.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2017.