PML-N rally marred by confusion, low attendance

The Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz held a protest rally in Lahore on Friday against corruption of the present federal government. The rally witnessed some fiery speeches by the PML-N leadership and also a few
verses of poetry towards the end by Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif.

The rally though raised more questions than it answered about the PML-N’s political clout in the provincial capital of Lahore. The rally, deliberately staged in a small area because of the party’s fears of
attracting a low attendance, also resulted in some embarrassment for MNA Hamza Shahbaz Sharif.

Hamza Shahbaz is the son of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and is being groomed to take over a prominent role in the party. He was tasked with the arrangement of Friday’s rally and assigned with gathering a
crowd of no less than 100,000 people.

Although Hamza had been addressing almost 4 gatherings a day for the last two weeks to stir up the party’s support base and ensure maximum participation in the procession, he was unable to produce the desired
results. The political scion could only muster around 30,000 to 45,000 people for the rally, according to independent journalists.

A majority among them weren’t even from within Lahore and had been brought to the city on paid transport by the many MNA’s of the party. Still more were government workers present to bolster the numbers on
directives of the Punjab government.

The procession, slated for a 2 PM start, had to be delayed for hours due to slow arrival of the public. Most of the participants present expected Shahbaz Sharif to come and start the proceedings, but instead
Hamza got on a huge truck at 5 PM to lead, but failed to attract the majority of workers who were waiting for his father.

Shahbaz though did not participate in the rally procession and arrived directly at the podium via the backstage. Many participants were also caught off guard by the absence of party President Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz left the country for a foreign tour shortly after the announcement of PML-N’s rally on the 28th of October and is currently in Turkey.