Tens of thousands gather in Lahore to welcome former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Organisers says they expect more than one million participants in the rally

Supporters of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif wave party's flags as they await his arrival at a park in Lahore on Saturday. AFP
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Tens of thousands of Pakistan Muslim League-N supporters gathered at the Greater Iqbal Park, in Lahore to welcome their leader Nawaz Sharif, the former three-time prime minister who returned home on Saturday after a self-imposed-exile lasting around four years.

PML-N president for Lahore, Malik Saif ul Malook Khokhar, told The National that the rally was going to be the biggest in the city's history in terms of attendance.

“Party activists have started arriving at the rally venue since Friday afternoon. We expect more than one million participants in this rally today,” he said.

“So far, the caravans of the party supporters from Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces have arrived and more people are still coming to the venue where the party leader is to speak in the evening,” he added.

More than 100,000 chairs have been arranged at the park while tents were also set up since Friday as many activists spent the night there, Imdad Hussain, PML-N’s former senior minister for Punjab and part of the rally's organising team, told The National.

“Our leader is going to present a charter for Pakistan of the year 2018, when there was an economic boom and peace in the country,” Mr Hussain said.

Malik Zarawar Shinwari, additional secretary information for PML-N Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that more than 100,000 party activists had left the province for Lahore.

“One caravan left Peshawar via railway last night, while another caravan is now being led by PML-N central leader Amir Muqam to Lahore, comprising hundreds of vehicles,” he added.

Things seems to have turned around for Mr Sharif, who has clashed with Pakistan’s powerful security establishment throughout his lengthy career.

During his last stay in Pakistan, Mr Sharif was imprisoned for corruption, but he was allowed to leave jail on medical grounds in November 2019.

A Pakistan high court on Thursday barred authorities from arresting him.

Mr Sharif had sought protection from arrest from a court in Islamabad before his return to the country, according to his lawyer.

Amjad Pervez said that Mr Sharif was granted protective bail, which orders authorities not to arrest him until he personally appears before the court on October 24.

Updated: November 15, 2023, 11:21 AM