Pakistan: Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif determined to lead rally despite blast | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Pakistan: Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif determined to lead rally despite blast

Former premier Nawaz Sharif plans to go ahead with a rally from Islamabad to Lahore on Wednesday despite an explosion on the route that killed one person and injured 25 others.

world Updated: Aug 08, 2017 21:19 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Pakistani workers install a huge billboard of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the planned route of his rally at a highway in Islamabad on August 8, 2017. According to Malik Mohammad Ahmed, an official spokesman in Punjab where Lahore is the provincial capital, Sharif plans to travel with a convoy of supporters by road from the federal capital of Islamabad to Lahore.
Pakistani workers install a huge billboard of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the planned route of his rally at a highway in Islamabad on August 8, 2017. According to Malik Mohammad Ahmed, an official spokesman in Punjab where Lahore is the provincial capital, Sharif plans to travel with a convoy of supporters by road from the federal capital of Islamabad to Lahore. (AP)

Pakistan’s deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif is determined to hold a rally in his powerbase of Lahore despite a bombing in the city on Monday that killed one person and raised fears for the PML-N chief’s safety.

The explosion in a fruit truck occurred on the route that Sharif is to take on Wednesday for the rally. Last week, Islamabad Police had cited threats from various militant groups and expressed reservations about the rally that Sharif plans to lead from Islamabad to Lahore.

The media reported explosives were hidden in the truck laden with fruits. Initial reports had said the explosion occurred when the truck hit an electric transformer. The truck was parked at the same spot for the past three days, police said. One person was killed and 35 others were injured by the blast.

Sharif plans to return to his hometown from Islamabad for the first time since the Supreme Court disqualified him on July 28 for being dishonest while declaring his assets – specifically, that his son’s Dubai-based company listed a monthly salary for him. Sharif has repeatedly said he never received any of that money.

Despite the security threat to Sharif’s rally, “there is no change in the plans”, Punjab government spokesman Malik Mohammad Ahmed said.

The former premier was earlier scheduled to travel to Lahore from Islamabad via the famous Grand Trunk Road on Sunday, but the rally was postponed to Wednesday.

The PML-N has planned a “million march” to protest against Sharif’s disqualification in the Panama Papers case.

Opposition leader Imram Khan has expressed concern at Sharif’s plan to travel to Lahore with a cavalcade, describing it as “a deliberate attempt to undermine the Supreme Court” and its judgement in the high-profile scandal.

In another challenge to the ruling PML-N, firebrand opposition cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri returned home after mainly living abroad amid pending court cases against him in Pakistan. Qadri has vowed to get justice for eight supporters killed during anti-government rallies in 2014.

Qadri said on Tuesday he will launch a fresh anti-government campaign and praised the top court for disqualifying Sharif.

Sharif’s removal plunged Pakistan into political turmoil but PML-N loyalists elected Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the new prime minister. The next general election is due in June 2018.