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Nisar denies reports of skipping GT Road rally due to back pain

Nisar denies reports of skipping GT Road rally due to back pain

Pakistan's deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif is determined to hold a rally in his powerbase of Lahore despite a bombing in the city on Monday that killed one person and raised fears for the PML-N chief's safety.

He said the speed of the rally had nothing to do with any security threat. Normally, it takes up to five hours from Islamabad to Lahore while driving on the Grand Trunk Road but Sharif's convoy may take around two days, according to organisers.

Sharif's supporters showered rose petals on his vehicle and waved national and party flags, chanting: "My Lion, your lion, Nawaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif" - the lion was Sharif's election symbol when he won the 2013 vote.

Sharif was seen off in Islamabad by Abbasi, the new cabinet and other party officials, his political adviser Asif Kirmani said.

The way Pakistan's political system is set up means any party that sweeps Punjab will most likely go on to form a government after the 2018 poll.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan's new premier who replaced Sharif a week after his July 28 disqualification, has ordered special measures for Sharif's safety.

Sharif's governing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, which has a solid majority in parliament, elected Abbasi as his replacement within four days of the court decision. But Sharif has brushed aside such concerns and told partyleaders that it was vital to speak to supporters about thecircumstances under which he was ousted, party sources said.

Sharif criticized the investigators in the probe against him and his family, saying "our worst opponents were part of the JIT (Joint Investigation Team)" which was appointed by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

Meanwhile, in another challenge to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, firebrand opposition cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri returned home after mostly living overseas amid pending court-cases against him in Pakistan.

Khan described Sharif's plan to travel to Lahore with a cavalcade on GT Road a "deliberate attempt to undermine the Supreme Court" by calling into question its verdict in the Panama Papers case.

Shehbaz Sharif stressed that Nawaz Sharif strengthened the country s defence, helped speed up progress by quick completion of projects and represents the larger public mandate.

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