LAHORE: Lahore, the hometown and political stronghold of Nawaz Sharif, where PML-N won 11 National Assembly seats out of 12 during the 2013 elections, remained calm except for a few scattered protests by party activists after the Panama verdict.
It was time for Friday prayers when the verdict was announced and it started raining in different parts of the city just after the decision. The ruling party leadership had also already decided to accept the decision and the top leadership announced it would comply with the orders of the Supreme Court.
These factors contributed to a low intensity response. Still, activists of PML-N gathered in different parts of the city including Data Darbar, Garhi Shahu, Kahna, Adda Plot, Raiwind, Lahore Press Club, Mall Road, Shahdara, Bhatti, Thokar Niaz Beg and Ferozpur Road. At some points, they burnt tyres and also blocked traffic.
The activists were carrying posters of Nawaz Sharif and chanting slogans against his disqualification. The political temperature around the Lahore Press Club was high as people from PTI and N-league were busy protesting or distributing sweets.
“N-League is observing this day as a black day as democracy has been derailed and the country’s elected prime minister has been disqualified,” commented Saad Hassan, a PML-N activist.
While on the other hand, an activist of PTI Rasheed believed that the Supreme Court’s verdict was the beginning of new era. “This is the start of a corruption-free Pakistan,” he said while distributing sweets.
Meanwhile a large number of PTI workers, including women, gathered at the party chairman’s secretariat in Garden Town and various other areas of the city to celebrate the victory. Holding party flags and portraits of Imran Khan, they were chanting slogans in favour of their leader and the apex court.
PML-N ministers, MPAs and local government representatives, along with party workers, took to the streets to register their protest against the SC’s decision. They blocked major city roads, including the Mall Road, roads connecting to Lahore Press Club, Ferozpur Road, Ghari Shahu, Babu Sabhu Interchange, Shahdara Chowk, Data Darbar Chowk and Liberty Chowk, which caused great inconvenience to commuters. Some angry activists also deflated tyres of public buses near Shahdara Chowk.
PML-N MPA Waheed Gull, along with his supporters, held a rally. He chanted slogans against the apex court’s decision. Later, he fainted on the street and was taken to the Services Hospital Lahore.
To maintain smooth flow of vehicular traffic due to protests and rains, the city traffic police appointed 300 extra wardens under the supervision of 12 DSPs, two SPs and Chief Traffic Officer himself.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2017.