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LAHORE: The PML-N rank and file on Friday made hectic efforts to finalise arrangements for the reception of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today (Saturday).

The endeavours were meant to ensure the presence of a maximum number of people at the culmination of rally near the shrine of Data Sahib “to prove that he (Nawaz) is the sole ruler of the hearts of the Lahorites”.

The provincial and district administrations too were busy finalising plans for what they said averting any untoward incident.

According to many PML-N activists, all ministers, MNAs and MPAs especially those from Lahore are expected to bring a maximum number of people to welcome Mr Sharif and listen to his speech near Data Sahib to prove that it is his city and he is the most popular leader.

“It is our duty to prove that Mr Sharif is right in claiming mass support. We must prove that he lives in the hearts of people,” said PML-N’s UC 60 chairman Kashif Sattar.

Most provincial ministers tasked to make the rally a success were in a meeting with the chief minister in the late afternoon to what sources said finalise efforts to make the culmination of the rally a forceful beginning of Mr Sharif’s “contact the people campaign”.

The party stalwarts in the downtown said Mr Sharif was expected to address his supporters near the shrine of Pir Makki which is adjacent to the shrine of Data Sahib. A stage was set on Thursday which was also checked by security agencies on Thursday night and Friday.

Mr Sattar said each MPA and minister from Lahore would personally ensure the presence of PML-N workers at the rally. All roads and streets leading to the venue would be closed for security reasons.

The Metro bus service would also remain suspended for security. All shops en route the rally in Lahore would remain closed. Entry would be allowed through specific points where PML-N local leaders or ministers would remain deputed to identify people to eliminate chances of intrusion by any miscreant or terrorist. But even then, police would allow entry after frisking everyone with metal detectors.

Other PML-N workers said they might be issued identification cards by the ministers of their localities to help them easily cross several security points. Carrying party flags and welcoming banners, the people would start arriving at the entry points in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the top administration and security men were scheduled to hold a meeting on Friday night to finalise security and traffic plans for Mr Sharif’s rally.

Officials in the Home Department said thousands of police and security agencies’ personnel would guard the venue and areas surrounding it because maintaining law and order and protecting the lives of people was the basic duty of the government.

“The government had always provided security cover to public meetings or rallies of all political leaders including Mr Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri,” a senior official said.

It was stated that the deputy commissioners of all cities on the route of Mr Sharif’s rally had conditionally allowed it upon submission of applications by local PML-N focal persons. The conditions included obeying orders by the authorities with regard to maintenance of law and order, and ensuring proper security arrangements for people and the leaders.

Police and other law-enforcement agencies had been making security arrangements in league with the PML-N focal persons in Lahore and elsewhere for the past three days.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2017

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