GT Road rally reaches committee chowk, Rawalpindi

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s caravan was moving through Rawalpindi and will continue its journey, via the GT Road, for his hometown of Lahore.

At present, Nawaz’s cavalcade, surrounded by scores of party supporters, is at the Committe Chowk area of Rawalpindi and the former premier is expected to address party workers soon.

A stage has been set up at Committee Chowk where PML-N leaders are expected to address their supporters which will be the caravan’s first stop on the way to Lahore, reported APP.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader was seen shifting between a customised armoured container, made for his rally, and his personal vehicle.

Various PML-N leaders were seen greeting their supporters and addressing them.

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

Strict security preparations have been made for the rally, with significant deployment of police personnel, including elite force commandos. A helicopter is also following the procession to provide security for the former premier’s rally.

PML-N’s caravan has covered a distance of around 10 kilometers since it set off.

The rally is a show of force by the former prime minister after his disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.

Earlier, the former premier began the journey after departing from Punjab House around noon.

Senior government officials, including the prime minister, members of the federal cabinet and PML-N leaders, were present at Punjab House to see off Nawaz.

Disgruntled party leader Chaudhry Nisar was conspicuous by his absence.

Sources said President Mamnoon Hussain and Nawaz’s daughter Maryam telephoned him to wish him well for the journey.

Before getting into the vehicle at Punjab House, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar embraced Nawaz.

Scores of supporters had amassed at D-Chowk, in front of the Parliament, as Nawaz’s caravan was expected to formally begin its journey from there but the former premier did not make a stopover there and is en route.

The decision for Sharif to reach out to masses by travelling via GT Road was taken at a party meeting at Punjab House a couple of days ago.

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

Talking to the media Wednesday morning outside the Punjab House, Kirmani said he cannot say where Nawaz will address workers or when and where they will stay the night as it all ‘depends on the love between the supporters and their leader’.

Following his disqualification as the prime minister, Sharif vacated PM House on July 30 and headed to his Murree residence along with family members and close confidants. A week later, he moved to Punjab House, Islamabad.