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Nawaz Sharif Embarks on Rally to Lahore, Likely to Hold Roadshow

Punjab CM Shahbaz responds to the critics

Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif began a rally on Wednesday in a defiant show of political power after a supreme court decision disqualified him from office late last month over undeclared assets.

Nawaz Sharif is leading a PML-N rally from Islamabad to Lahore via the Grand Trunk Road.

The former prime minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, is going to call on the people of Pakistan to decide for themselves whether he is guilty of the crimes he has been charged with.

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

According to the SAAMA TV broadcaster, over 7,000 people and between 900 and 1,000 vehicles have been participating in the procession.

At least 5,000 persons are expected to accompany him throughout the journey, and thousands are expected to receive and see off the leader at the borders of their respective constituencies.

It is to mention here that the former prime minister had earlier wished his younger brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to succeed him as prime minister (after contesting from NA-120 to become a National Assembly member).

On Tuesday, Punjab's Information Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman revealed that the rally will take three days to reach Lahore instead of single day. "No prime minister in Pakistan has ever been allowed to complete his term".

Sharif was expected to stay put at Rawalpindi tonight and resume his journey tomorrow morning from the garrison city.

He stepped down almost an year before Pakistan would have participated in the scheduled general elections.

But Sharif has brushed aside such concerns and told party leaders that it was vital to speak to supporters about the circumstances under which he was ousted, party sources said.

Sharif, 67, resigned during his third stint as prime minister after the Supreme Court ruled on July 28 that he should be disqualified.

The poll panel notice comes a day before Sharif is set to travel to Lahore for a "historic" two-day rally by the PML-N to garner much-needed political mileage in the face of the challenges its government is facing, the daily reported.

Sharif also announced that he respects the decision despite serious reservations.