Pakistan's ousted premier Nawaz Sharif today embarked on a journey to Lahore from Islamabad via the famous Grand Trunk Road to show his popularity among the people despite security concerns following a bomb blast in the Punjab province's capital.
According to Dawn online, the disqualified premier's younger brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and his predecessor Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan warned Sharif against proceeding to Lahore by road, a distance of 380 km.
But the former Prime Minister was adamant on taking the GT Road. "I will not wait for the situation to calm down because I have every right to go home," he told reporters at the Punjab House on Tuesday.
Security has been heightened in Lahore ahead of the arrival of Sharif as PML-N members believe that the Sunday explosion of a fruit-laden parked truck here was intended to target the former Prime Minister's convoy that was scheduled to pass on way to Lahore.
The PML-N chief has ignored his party members' advice, but sent his wife Kulsoom and daughter Maryam to Lahore a day before his own departure.
Sharif on Wednesday morning left the Punjab House in Islamabad and arrived at D-Chowk, the first stop of his procession, where the former premier's supporters greeted him.
He told the media that he had never tried to create anarchy in the country -- be it the days of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf sit-in outside Parliament, attempts to lock down the capital or matters relating to the Panama Papers case.
Sharif on Tuesday avoided questions on the chances of him returning as Prime Minister, but hinted that he would remain active in politics.
He said a petition seeking a review of his disqualification would soon be filed before the Supreme Court with the plea that a larger bench hear the case.
The Constitution was abrogated again and again, he said, but the judiciary not only legitimised military rule every time, it even went to the extent of giving dictators the right to amend the Constitution.
"Why should I have disclosed a salary I never withdrew from my son's company," he asked, adding that a Prime Minister elected with the votes of 200 million people should not have been treated in such a way.
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.
At least 5,000 persons are expected to accompany him throughout the journey, and thousands are expected to receive and see off the leader at the borders of their respective constituencies.
(With IANS inputs)