ISLAMABAD - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif plans to show his political muscle over the weekend as he gets ready for a rallies-filled travel to Lahore.

As the cabinet takes oath today, he will travel to Islamabad from Murree and stay in the Punjab House for a couple of days before packing up for his political stronghold.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others had advised Sharif to travel back to Lahore as the party had planned a massive welcome programme.

Nawaz Sharif will travel Lahore via Motorway and will be seen off by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan at Chakri on August 6 (Sunday), a PML-N leader said.

“He will start his journey by addressing the people and will end it in Lahore by delivering a speech,” said another PML-N leader. “On the way, 10-15 rallies have been planned where Sharif will stop and address the supporters. It is an action-filled trip back home,” he added.

The former premier, still the most powerful person in the ruling PML-N, has been defending himself against the Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify him for hiding assets. He is expected to give his arguments in the series of speeches as he drives to Lahore.

His nephew Hamza Shahbaz will welcome him along with a rally of PML-N loyalists at Babu Sabu interchange where he would address the public. Before proceeding to his Jatti Umra residence, the former PM is also expected to visit Darbar Data Sahib.

Our Sargodha correspondent reported that local PML-N leadership and workers will welcome the former premier at Salam Motorway Interchange. Hamza Shehbaz Sharif has been intimated by the local leadership in this regard.

A special meeting - chaired by Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Gilgat-Baltistan Chaudhry Hamid Hameed and participated by MPAs Abdul Razzaq Dhillon and Dr Nadia Aziz, and City Mayor Malik Aslam Naveed - decided to accord Nawaz an unprecedented welcome.

The meeting also decided that a rally will be taken out from Jinnah Garden on Sunday at 2pm in which PML-N youth, women wing, MSF and PML-N workers would participate in large numbers.

During the days after his disqualification, the ex-PM considered several proposals about travelling to Lahore. Apart from Motorway, Grand Trunk road and train were seen as potential options. Motorway, a project completed by the PML-N government in the previous stint, was finalised by the party after deliberations.

From party president to Qaid

The PML-N is also under criticism by the rival parties for referring to Nawaz Sharif as the party president when legally he stood disqualified to hold the post.

“The party will now give him a new unofficial designation like Quaid (mentor) or Rahbar (leader) and possibly elect Shehbaz Sharif as the PML-N president. We will in the meanwhile fight our case to ensure Nawaz Sharif’s comeback,” said a close aide of the former premier.

Sharif was previously removed as the PML-N president under a law introduced by military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Shehbaz Sharif was elected as the party president before the 2002 elections to ensure PML-N’s participation in the polls under Musharraf. Earlier, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi served as the acting president of the PML-N.

Sharif returned as the PML-N president in 2011. After his recent disqualification as a lawmaker, he again has lost this top party office as he stands ineligible to officially lead a party.

Meanwhile, PM Abbasi held a meeting with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal chief Fazlur Rehman here Thursday to discuss political situation and formation of the cabinet.

A close aide said since JUI-F was an ally of the government, the PM consulted Fazl on the cabinet members and his nominees for the federal ministries. “Leaders of other allies have [also] been contacted,” he added.



Sharif to demonstrate his public appeal