Pakistan’s ousted premier Nawaz Sharif will travel to Lahore from Islamabad via the famous Grand Trunk Road next week in a bid to show his popularity among the people. Sharif has not visited his home town and his stronghold, Lahore, since he was disqualified by the Supreme Court last week over the Panama Papers scandal. The former premier wanted to go to Lahore via the Grand Trunk Road soon after his ouster as a show of strength but was persuaded by close advisors to avoid confrontation with the judiciary, sources in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said. He was also asked to delay his plan due to security issues, they said.
After the verdict, Sharif went to Murree and stayed there for about a week and then returned to Islamabad. Hundreds of supporters were present at different locations during the journey to welcome him. Encouraged by the support, he changed his plan and decided to travel by road to Lahore next week. According to the initial programme, he was to go to Lahore through Motorway on Sunday.
Another reason for changing the day and route for travelling to Lahore was the insistence of his workers to address rallies at main cities along the Grand Trunk Road. Sharif’s spokesman Asif Kirmani said that the former premier would embark on his journey from Islamabad to Lahore via the Grand Trunk Road on Wednesday at 9 AM. He would speak to supporters at selected places before addressing a huge gathering in Lahore, where already preparations for it are underway. Analysts believe that PML-N wants to use the ouster of Sharif to gain sympathy in Punjab ahead of next year’s elections.