Ousted Pakistan PM Sharif’s convoy hit and killed teenage boy at rally
Railways minister labelled the death as “the first martyr of this movement for democracy”
The motorcade of Pakistan’s former prime minister hit and killed a 13-year-old boy at a rally where Nawaz Sharif was protesting his recent disqualification from office.
Crowds have rallied in support of the ousted leader who, since Wednesday, has been making his way down the major road from the capital Islamabad to his party’s stronghold in the eastern city of Lahore.
“A 13-year-old boy who had came to see the rally was hit by a car in the convoy,” said Sajid Ali, head of the local Lalamusa police station.
An investigation had been launched, he added.
During a speech in nearby Gujrat, railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique called the teenager “the first martyr of this movement for democracy”.
One of the vehicles in the motorcade on Friday hit and killed the boy as he crossed a divider on the road, the minister said.
Sharif said in his Gujrat speech he would personally visit the boy’s home “and try to help his family for life”.
As at previous stops along the route, Sharif railed against the Supreme Court’s decision last month to disqualify him from office over corruption charges, insisting his conscience was “clean”.
Supporters chanted “prime minister Nawaz Sharif” and danced to songs praising his party as the former leader addressed the crowd from a makeshift stage behind bulletproof glass.
Thousands turned out to catch a glimpse of Sharif as his convoy rolled down Grand Trunk Road, a more than 2,000-year-old trade route that leads from Chittagong in Bangladesh across India and Pakistan to the Afghan capital Kabul.
Sharif hopes to bring tens of thousands more into the streets in Lahore, but it is not yet known when he will arrive in the Punjabi capital. He is travelling in a bomb-proof vehicle that was specifically designed for the journey.
The convoy is surrounded by heavy security amid fears of an attack. A truck bomb exploded in Lahore on Monday, killing one person and injuring dozens.
Supporters gathered in Gujrat to voice their frustration over the ex-prime minister’s ouster.
Umair Mazhar, 26, insisted that no allegations of corruption had been proven against the former leader.
“The Supreme Court should do justice to Sharif and restore him,” he said.
Sharif was the 15th Pakistani prime minister to be ousted before completing a full term. About half of the country’s 70-year history has been spent under military rule.
The country’s top court disqualified Sharif on July 28 following an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, briefly plunging the nuclear-armed nation into political uncertainty.
Within days of his departure, the ruling PML-N nominated former oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as a new prime minister, with the National Assembly approving the choice.
He was originally seen to be a placeholder for Sharif’s younger brother, Shahbaz, who is chief minister of Punjab. But reports this week said the party appeared to be backtracking on the succession plans announced by Sharif, saying the PML-N would likely keep Abbasi in place until next year’s general elections.
On Friday a party official said Sharif’s wife would contest the parliamentary seat left vacant after his removal.
Until now Begum Kulsoom Nawaz Kulsoom, who has been married to Sharif for 46 years, has largely stayed out of politics.