The three-time prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) supremo, Nawaz Sharif, will return to the country today (Saturday) from exile to a rousing and unprecedented welcome in Lahore.

The 73-year-old is admired by supporters for his approachable “man of the soil” demeanour. Fans call him “the Lion of Punjab”, where his support is strongest. His return has been smoothed by legal changes downsizing the period lawmakers can be barred from elections.

To welcome their leader, the PMLN leaders and workers are converging in Lahore from all across Pakistan for the party’s grand power show at the Minar-e-Pakistan grounds on October 21.

The party has booked multiple special trains to ensure that its supporters are able to attend the grand rally. Two trains from Balochistan, one from Naseerabad and one from Quetta, have left for Lahore, while a large number of PML-N workers, led by the party’s provincial leadership, departed from Karachi’s City Railway Station.

These special trains have been decorated with party leaders’ pictures and flags.

PMLN Karachi President Salman Khan shared that 5,500 workers had approached them for tickets but they could only accommodate 3,000. “The rest of them will be sent to Lahore on buses.”

Former governor Mohammad Zubair, while speaking to the media at the station, said they were aware that enthusiasm will keep on rising.

“Such a large number of people have not travelled from Sindh for a political rally before this,” claimed Zubair. He added that Nawaz will speak about the welfare of the people in his address and the PMLN is developing an agenda for people.

However, the situation turned embarrassing for the PMLN when multiple workers started protesting over lack of space on the train. They called on the party leaders to respect them as they also wished to go to Lahore. They were later provided seats.

Meanwhile, another special train departed from Hyderabad at 3pm, led by PMLN Sindh President Shah Muhammad Shah.

A convoy has also left from Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Muzaffarabad to reach Lahore, led by Dr Mustafa Bashir. Bashir claimed that more than 10,000 Kashmiris will be at the Minar-e-Pakistan for the mega rally.

On the other hand, a night before the public meeting, former prime minister and party President Shehbaz Sharif visited the venue to review the arrangements for Saturday’s event. PMLN central leadership, including Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Rana Sanaullah and others, also visited the meeting venue. There was a firework display on the arrival of Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz.

Multan Bureau report: The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz has decided to shower red roses from aircraft in Lahore to welcome the party supremo Nawaz Sharif on Saturday, party sources said.

On arrival of the former premier, flowers will be showered on the city of Lahore, they said.

The PMLN has contacted a private company in this regard while the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted permission for the purpose. The CAA has issued a notification, allowing drop of flowers in Lahore. After the arrival of Nawaz Sharif at 3pm, two aircraft will drop flowers on the city for one-and-a-half hours, the notification said.

Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif has reached Dubai where he will meet the party leaders and spend a busy day in the Gulf state. He also had a meeting today with a key UAE figure.


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2023-10-21

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