Deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has called for “a change and revolution” in the country to ensure the sanctity of elections as he addressed tens of thousands of supporters in his home town.
Concluding his four-day journey, which began in Islamabad and culminated in Lahore, Mr Sharif was clearly delighted to address those who gathered near the famous Sufi shrine of Data Darbar.
After a supreme court decision disqualified him last month for concealing assets, Mr Sharif travelled with a long cavalcade from Islamabad, staying overnight in three cities.
Authorities stopped all vehicles, except those of Mr Sharif and ministers, at the entrance to the city because of the massive crowds.
He said that throughout his journey he had seen that people had not accepted his disqualification and asked supporters to await his next move, without elaborating.
Citing his accomplishments, he asked why a prime minister was disqualified when he was moving the country towards progress.
“Does a prime minister making the country developed and prosperous deserve such a treatment?” he said.
Mr Sharif pointed out that over the past 70 years no prime minister in Pakistan had been permitted to complete their term, making the country and its people suffer.
He said he was ready to give his life to change the destiny of the country and its people.
Mr Sharif has a rocky history with the country’s military establishment.
He served three separate stints as premier but never completed a full term in office.
In 1993, then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan removed him on corruption allegations and, in 1999, General Pervez Musharraf seized power in a coup.
Meanwhile a suicide bomber killed eight soldiers and seven civilians when he targeted a military lorry near a private hospital in the south-western city of Quetta on Saturday.
Kabeer Khan, an explosives expert who examined the site, said the attacker was carrying about 25kgs of “incendiary explosives” on a motorcycle that he rammed into the lorry.
A military statement said the bomb wounded 25 people, including 15 civilians. It said the explosives sparked fires in nearby vehicles and that all the victims were taken to a military hospital.
Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said the attack was an attempt to mar independence day festivities. He said: “Our resolve won’t succumb to any challenge.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.