By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS
Nawaz Sharif is back in the Pakistan after his long exile. He reached Lahore on November 25th 2007 at 6:25 P.M. The caravan waiting for Mr. Sharif, his wife Mrs. Kulsum Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif left for their destination roughly 40 minutes after arrival. From there he led the crowd to Data Darbar and gave a talk. The crowd was enormous and it looked as though Mr. Sharif was floating on top of a sea of people. Mr. Sharif made it clear to the public that he had not come back to the country after making any kind of deal with the government. He also added that he is not looking for revenge; rather he wants to see the country proceed towards democracy. Mr. Sharif also said that he would go to all the Provinces to see how the people feel.
Security was very tight and police was deployed all around the airport. According to the Police officials around 1,000 security personnel were manning the airport for the leadersâ€™ security. The PML-N workers and supporters were able to break down the security barriers every now and then in order to get close to their leaders. Even though the police was trying to stay calm and was not rude to the public, reports say, still 1,800 arrests were made that night by the police officials. This figure was given by PML-Nâ€™s Ahsan Iqbal.
The Sharifs reached the shrine of Data Darbar going through Chungi Dogage, Rangers Headquarters, Joray Pul, Sadr Gole Chakar, Dharampura, Garhi Shahu, Allama Iqbal Road and Shah Alami. After visiting Data Darbar he left for Raiwind.
A special security convoy was appointed to accompany the Sharifs from the airport to Data Darbar and from there to Raiwind. The officials of Intelligence Bureau and Special Branch forces were also deputed on the routes of the PML-N leaders.
However, the opposition and other political voices that do not belong to PML-N are questioning the statement made by Sharif that there was no deal with the government. If there was no deal then why is the governmentsâ€™ attitude so different this time compared with the last time. Just about two months prior to this return Mr. Nawaz Shahrif tried to come back to Pakistan and landed at the Islamabad Airport but he was put back on a plane and sent back to his continued exile. In that case the PML-N leaders and workers were very upset with the Saudi government.
Things seem to have changes on both fronts not. Mr. Sharif cannot stop mentioning how grateful he is to the Saudi Government and the Pakistani President does not seem to mind the return of Sharif as well. Under these circumstances the political world is left to wonder what really caused this change of heart on both side. Also, opposition asks if this return is not an outcome of a deal then why was the 10 year exile cut short to only 8 years.