Sharif kicks off roadshow to Lahore in show of strength

Filing of nomination papers for by-elections in NA-120 begins

On Tuesday, Sharif said his party won't replace Abbasi with his brother, but that decision has yet to be finalized.

Sharif addressed a huge rally in downtown Rawalpindi, after starting his journey from Islamabad to Lahore to project his political strength.

Analysts and opinion-makers on Wednesday were divided over the true goal behind the rally, which Sharif has termed a "homecoming" rally.

However, what definitely does concern me and many others around me is the state of hardcore disarray in which Pakistan now stands.

But media reports this week said the party appeared to backtrack on the plans, saying the PML-N would likely keep newly elected Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in place until next year's general elections.

PM also said that the Dubai government had issued millions of resident visas in a specific period of time and there is no law in Pakistan that hinders acquisition of such facility. In a bold move, Sharif climbed on an open stage to deliver the speech instead of addressing his supporters through his bomb-proof special vehicle.

He began his journey on Wednesday morning from Islamabad and due to the massing of supporters on the way the rally could only reach Rawalpindi, 20 km from the capital, in 12 hours, Geo News reported.

Before leaving Punjab House, the offices of the Punjab provincial government in the capital, Sharif met several government ministers.

Speaking on the eve of his departure, Sharif said that Pakistan had only ever seen "a crippled democracy".

The convoy is expected to reach Jhelum shortly, and police have closed off one track of the road leading to the city. They were chanting slogans and carrying banners and placards bearing picture of their leaders.

Sharif, however, was not happy with the number of supporters at the rally.

PML-N's Uzma Bukhari, attempting to defend her party leader's decision to speed up the journey, said: "The towns he has travelled through are small towns".

"The court decision was wrong", 24-year-old Malik Arsalan told AFP, voicing his hope that the rallies would propel Sharif to power once more.

The procession also comes after the Supreme Court on July 28 disqualified Sharif for not disclosing the salary he did not receive from his son's company, revealed by the Panama Papers scandal and also ensnared his children in corruption allegations.

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