Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s procession entered its second day on the streets as the PML-N leader resumed a long road trip back to his hometown, Lahore, via the Grand Trunk (GT) Road on Thursday after an overnight stay in Rawalpindi.
By nearly 2pm, the rally had reached Ayub Park, and the rate at which it was travelling had slowed considerably since it resumed its journey this afternoon.
However, Sharif’s vehicle has picked up speed and separated from the rally, along with a police escort. He did not stop at a camp where workers had gathered, and crossed a number of small stops. DawnNews reported the move may have been due to security fears or a small number of workers gathered at the camps. The convoy is expected to reach Jhelum in approximately an hour.
Earlier, an estimated 1,500 workers joined the procession as it set off from Punjab House, Rawalpindi.
There is greater deployment of police in the twin cities today as compared to the first day of the rally, but fewer cars are accompanying the procession today than yesterday.
What was said to be a show of the party’s political muscle, especially in Rawalpindi which has traditionally been a stronghold for the PML-N, had lower turnout of supporters than expected, despite the party describing the ousted PM as “the prime minister of hearts”.
The procession was subjected to criticism, particularly from opposition leaders, who drew a comparison to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) 2014 dharna, which pulled and sustained hordes over a period of 126 days.
PTI’s Usman Dar, on a DawnNews talk show, was of the opinion that when PTI Chairman Imran Khan brought the people out onto the streets, he was rallying against corruption. “Nawaz Sharif has come out to save that corruption,” Dar said, observing that the country had not seen him travel on GT Road in the four years that he had been prime minister.