Saad Rafique claims he suggested GT Road route for Nawaz ‘homecoming’ rally


ISLAMABAD: Railways Minister Saad Rafique on Thursday revealed that he had suggested former premier Nawaz Sharif’s ‘homecoming’ rally after the July 28 Panamagate verdict take the Grand Trunk (GT) Road route instead of the motorway from Islamabad to Lahore, a decision that had allegedly been agreed upon by the PML-N leadership, according to sidelined party stalwart, Chaudhry Nisar.

Saad Rafique, while speaking to journalists outside Parliament Lodges today, claimed he was the one who had suggested Nawaz take GT Road instead of the Motorway.

He added that a number of senior party leaders, including Shahbaz, had advised the former PM to take the motorway due to security concerns, and that attributing the suggestion to any one party member would be inaccurate.

Rafique said that a delegation of journalists had advised Nawaz against opting for the motorway route, after which the former PM had decided to take GT Road.

He was hopeful that the differences between Nawaz and Nisar would be resolved soon.

Nisar on Wednesday seemed to take personal affront to veiled suggestions by certain PML-N leaders that he was the one responsible for recommending the motorway route for the rally.

The remarks were made during a meeting of top party officials, including Nawaz Sharif, Talal Chaudhry, and former law minister Zahid Hamid, a video clip of which was shared by Maryam Nawaz on Twitter on Feb 13.

In an impassioned speech addressing the former prime minister, State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry can be heard saying in the video: “You revised your decision to take the motorway to go to Lahore. It was a turning point when you decided to take GT Road for the journey.”

At this, Nawaz asked: “Where are these people who suggested that we travel via the motorway?”

Amidst chuckles, party members quipped that those behind the recommendation will not be found at this gathering to which Nawaz said, “If you are sitting here then please raise your hand.”

Before Nawaz decided to take the GT Road for his procession towards Lahore in August 2017, media reports had claimed that Nisar wanted Nawaz to travel via the motorway and hold the rally only in Lahore.

Nisar, in a statement yesterday, clarified that Nawaz’s decision to travel to Lahore via the motorway had been made during a meeting of senior party leadership. The meeting, held in Murree, was attended by senior party leaders including the former premier and PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Nisar had said that a majority of the party members had advised taking the motorway to Lahore. It had been decided during the meeting that a welcome ceremony would be held at every interchange, and a grand final welcome would take place upon entering Lahore, he claimed.

“The decision is on record and news on the Murree meeting has been published as well,” the statement said, adding that the decision to go via the motorway was taken due to security reasons.

Orignally published by INP

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