Scenes at the PMD’s anti-government rally in Gujranwala
A beaming Maryam Nawaz reached the high-pedestal stage and clasped her hands as a show of power, flanked by other leaders of the PML-N, before waving fervently to a crowd of thousands who had gathered at Gujranwala’s Jinnah Stadium to kick off Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) anti-government public rallies, early last week.
Amidst loud cheers and slogans of “Sher aya” (Here comes the lion), the daughter of former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif took to the dais and made what came across as quite an impromptu speech that was nonetheless high on rhetoric and greased with insolent jibes at Prime Minister Imran Khan and his supporters, namely the military and intelligence.
The night went long enough, as several key leaders of opposition including the PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman arrived late at the venue. Maryam Nawaz reached the stadium in her SUV, having travelled by road from Lahore.
The rally looked very much like the ones we’re used to seeing in pre-Covid times. Not many were wearing facemasks, and social distancing was unimaginable.
Perhaps, the show’s biggest draw was Nawaz Sharif’s address, webcast live from London, in which the convicted leader expectedly hit back at his detractors in a no-holds-barred, albeit scripted, speech. Bilawal Bhutto too blasted the PTI-led government, but he mostly flagged issues of “historic” unemployment, inflation and poverty.