Former Pakistani PM Addresses Tens Of Thousands Of Supporters In Lahore

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told thousands of supporters at a rally that he will “change the fate of the country” as he arrived in his hometown of Lahore from Islamabad after a three-day protest drive.

Sharif, who was ousted by the country’s Supreme Court on July 28, said the court’s decision “disrespected the vote” of those who had voted for him in the elections and he “will not sit at home until I change the fate of this country.”

The large crowd on August 12 was part of a massive protest that began on August 9 when Sharif launched what he called a caravan of democracy from Islamabad to Lahore.

Sharif’s long cavalcade stopped overnight in three different cities since he began the journey.

The group was surrounded by heavy security, with fears lingering after a truck bomb exploded in Lahore earlier this week, killing one person and injuring dozens. Sharif traveled in an armored vehicle.

He has given speeches along the way criticizing a decision by the Supreme Court that disqualified him from public office.

Sharif resigned from his post after the court ruling over an investigation that concluded his family could not account for vast wealth it owns in offshore companies.

The investigation stemmed from the so-called Panama Papers leaks in April 2016, when documents from a Panama-based law firm revealed that three of Sharif’s four children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family’s wealth statement.

The July court ruling marked the third time Sharif’s government was dismissed.

He previously was dismissed from office in 1993 and in 1999.

At least three people have been killed in a powerful bomb blast that ripped through a small town in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal region on the border with Afghanistan, authorities say.

At least 25 people were also injured in the August 11 explosion in the Char Mang district of Bajaur, said Aslam Khan, a government official in the area.

The region’s administration said in a statement that the explosion was caused by a roadside bomb. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but initial reports said it was remotely detonated.

Bajaur is one of the seven tribal agencies that makes up Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along its volatile border with Afghanistan.

The region has long been a stronghold for Taliban militants and other extremist groups.

In a separate incident, gunmen riding a motorcycle opened fire on a vehicle carrying a senior police officer in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, killing him and his guard before fleeing. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Karachi, located on the Arabian Sea, is considered a hiding place for Pakistani Taliban and foreign militants.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

   

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