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Lahore

July 14, 2018

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Activists pour onto streets to welcome Nawaz

LAHORE: Thousands of charged workers and supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League-N flocked the streets of Lahore to welcome their convicted Quaid Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on their return from London.

The first half of the day was relatively calm but citizens faced serious difficulties in reaching their destinations as access to majority of the city roads was blocked due to placement of containers. From morning until noon, the entire city was virtually a police state with every road barricaded and cordoned off by heavy contingents of police. All eyes were focused on the main rally led by Shahbaz Sharif from Lohari Gate.

Posters, banners and flags of the PML-N were also erected across the city while the PML-N workers tore down posters, banners and flexes of PTI especially along the route to airport. Following the PML-N rallies, most of the city markets were closed down in the second half of the day.

All the entry and exit points of the city were sealed and almost every convoys of the PML-N coming from other cities were stopped at Thokar, Babu Sabu, Lahore-Kasur Road, Raiwind Road, Ravi Toll Plaza and etc. Police also fired hundreds of tear gas shells and baton charged the PML-N workers at various points of entry to the provincial metropolis.

Model Town was the most affected locality as all of its entry and exit points were sealed and heavy contingents of police denied entry even to Model Town residents. Until evening, one could only witness countless heads on most of the major City roads especially Ferozpur Road, Lytton Road, The Mall, Mauj Darya Road, Old Anarkali, Circular Road, Data Darbar Road and Ravi Road etc.

The question asked by the police as well as the civil bureaucracy from each other was: “From where these people have come?” The mass appearance of people, most of whom were common citizens, on city roads terrified the provincial government and sensing the mood of the masses the police was directed to stay away.

Charged political activists were seen dancing to drum beats on the route from where the caravan of Shahbaz Sharif was moving. A large number of people also came out of their homes with their families to witness the show. A large number of women, students, youngsters and even senior citizens were also seen chanting slogans from the rooftops of their houses along the route. People were also seen distributing juice packs, bottles of mineral water, edibles and snacks among the participants of the rally.

As the participants moved ahead, police contingents stepped back, which increased the motivation and enthusiasm of the participants and more people began to join the rally. Many people termed Friday’s rally ‘Caravan of Justice’ and urged the interim government to wake up and smell the coffee.

“I come out on the call of Nawaz Sharif not because of the fact that he is a great leader but because of the fact that he was punished alone,” said Junaid Ahmed, a resident of Lohari Gate. He was sitting along the Circular Road to join Shahbaz Sharif. He said his two sons had already gone to Lahore airport. “I am not scared of being arrested because I know this is the only chance we have to get a free and independent judicial system,” he said.

“I was sitting in my house watching different news channels when my wife said to me that this is the time for the people to come out and support Nawaz Sharif, said Mansab, a resident of Ichhra. He said his wife encouraged him to go out after which he left his home to participate in the rally.

A large number of people remained glued to their television sets watching every moment of the history being made by the long march participants. A good number of citizens also used social media to express their views as well as to follow the arrival of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz through Internet. Phone service had been suspended in the city since noon while Internet service in many localities were also suspended.

Traffic rush was seen on Liberty Chowk, Ravi Road, Gawalmandi, Jore Pull, Sadar Bazaar, Azadi Chowk, UET Chowk, Ferozpur Road, Ichhra and other places because of traffic diversion due to the PML-N rally.

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