Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif addressed party workers in various areas of Lahore on Wednesday in order to mobilise the cadre at the grassroots level to welcome ousted prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz at the Lahore Airport on Friday. The PML-N has been busy rigorously chalking out a strategy to welcome the party’s supreme leader and his daughter when they land at the airport. Hoping to consolidate the PML-N stronghold in the city and ensure a large gathering at the welcome rally, former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif spoke to party workers at seven areas in the metropolitan, urging party workers to leave their homes in droves to ensure a historic welcome for the party’s supreme leader. “Nawaz Sharif isn’t coming for himself but for this nation, knowing that he would be sent to jail,” said the younger Sharif, while addressing a massive crowd at Shahdara, where party candidates for national and provincial assemblies Malik Riaz, Samiullah Khan and Ghazali Saleem Butt were also present. Nawaz Sharif brought the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Pakistan, he initiated many electricity projects in the country to get rid of the menace of load shedding, and made the country an atomic power, Shahbaz said. He urged residents of Shahdara to travel to the Allama Iqbal International Airport to welcome Nawaz on Friday, saying it was their duty to do that considering the ex-premier’s services for the nation. “You should shower your love for Nawaz Sharif on Friday and I would be leading the rally for his welcome,” he said, speaking at Shahdara Chowk. The PML-N is hoping to mobilise a lot of people to welcome their supreme leader, in hopes that it would boost their election campaign in the city, which is considered a bastion of the PML-N. This is also why Sharif has chosen to land in Lahore rather in another city. According to the PML-N’s plan, Shahbaz Sharif will lead the rally from Lohari Gate (in the Walled City) all the way to the airport, while all party workers have been asked to gather at the shrine of Data Sahib after Friday prayers. Commenting on the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to suspend all local government bodies till elections, the former Punjab chief minister said this was murder of democracy as the local government representatives were elected directly through votes. Addressing a convention of UC chairmen and vice chairmen earlier in the day in Johar Town, he said “Such steps are not legal but those tactics wouldn’t hamper the popularity of the PML-N and the whole city would be on roads to welcome their leader on Friday.” Separately, the younger Sharif addressed massive crowds of party workers at Taxali Chowk, MAO College, Sabzazar, Dubai Chowk Allama Iqbal Town and Township as part of party’s strategy to welcome Nawaz Sharif. It is worth mentioning here that the Lahore police on Wednesday impounded a number of heavy vehicles and containers to use as blockades to stop PML-N workers from gathering at the Lahore Airport to welcome Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz. A number of containers were seen near the Punjab Assembly, opposite Race Course Police Station, Bund Road and other places as the police are planning to block major arteries of Lahore leading towards the airport, while a last decision in this regard would be made by the caretaker government of the Punjab on Thursday. Furthermore, PML-N’s central media committee chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed wrote to the Punjab caretaker CM on Wednesday urging him not to block the roads for PML-N workers on Friday. “The PML-N is preparing a homecoming for its leader Mian Nawaz Sharif, who is arriving in Lahore on Friday, your administration, in the midst of election activities, has suddenly imposed Section 144 in Lahore, effectively disallowing gatherings of more than five people. Such draconian measures are contrary to the spirit of democracy and free and fair elections, and are a blatant violation of the code of conduct issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan which your government in the Punjab is duty bound to follow,” he said in the letter, adding: “Stopping our workers at a time when the election activities are at their peak would be tantamount to pre-poll rigging at your end.” Published in Daily Times, July 12th 2018.