Former PM Nawaz Sharif starts defiant rally to hometown

The brother of ousted Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif will not contest a parliamentary by-election for the vacant seat, party sources said on Tuesday, effectively scuttling previous plans for him to take over as prime minister in September.

Qamar Zaman Kaira of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said that there could be around 10,000 people with Sharif.

No democratically elected civilian prime minister in Pakistan has completed a full term in the office.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan urged the PML-N to distance itself from the ousted Premier, warning that it would "ruin itself" if it did not do so.

Massive security arrangements have been put in place on the route.

Not everyone who braved the sweltering heat at the rally in Islamabad supported Sharif, however. He said that 99% of party leadership was not attending the rally but he was the only one being made controversial.

Sharif's vehicle separated from the rally, along with a police escort as he was not traveling in the bombproof container. The general elections in Pakistan are due next year.

Rana Sanaullah said that the journey of Nawaz Sharif from Islamabad to Lahore would not be against anybody but this was all about the future of Pakistan.

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. Mr. Sharif, however, has brushed aside all concerns and told his colleagues that it was vital to touch base with his supporters to inform them about his ouster.

The PML-N is banking on its workers for making Sharif's return to his hometown a "historic" occasion to get the much-needed political mileage in the face of the challenges its government is facing. The timing and venue of gathering has not been announced, as it is not known how long he would take to reach Lahore. Shehbaz also defended the rally and said it was the fundamental right of every political party to stay in touch with the people.

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