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Sharif kicks off roadshow to Lahore in show of strength

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

Pakistan's ousted today embarked on a journey to Lahore from via the famous Grand Trunk Road to show his popularity among the people despite security concerns following a bomb blast in the province's capital. He held a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, cabinet ministers and senior party leaders before starting the 370-km-long journey. Sharif was accompanied by hundreds of his supporters. The former prime minister has not visited his hometown and his stronghold, Lahore, since he was disqualified by the Supreme last week over the Panama Papers scandal. His party has estimated that thousands of supporters would line up on the road side to greet him. Earlier, fear griped Sharif's party workers after the truck bombing killed at least two persons and injured 30 others on Monday. Sources in the Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party said that some of the senior party leaders were concerned about the security of Sharif. He has also planned to deliver speeches at important places where even bigger crowds of supporters are expected to turn up. "The security is an issue, though elaborate measures are being taken to make the journey free of any risk," a PML-N leader said. Sharif, however, has brushed aside all concerns and told his colleagues that it was vital to touch his supporters to inform them about his ouster, according to sources. He would also address a rally in Lahore after reaching the city.

The timing and venue of gathering has not been announced, as it is not known how long he would take to reach to Lahore. Normally, it takes up to five hours from to Lahore while driving on the Grand Trunk Road but Sharif's convoy may take around two days, according to organisers. Sharif's travel plan has already upset his rival Imran Khan who in a press conference has alleged that Sharif was disgracing the by challenging its decision. "It is strange that a man who has been disqualified is planning to travel on the road and tell people that he is innocent," said the cricketer-turned-politician who is the chief of Tehreek-e-Insaf party. Meanwhile, Canada-based cleric of Pakistani-origin Tahir-ul-Qadri, who has returned to Lahore, criticised Sharif's roadshow and demanded that he should change it.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, August 09 2017. 13:07 IST