Gujranwala - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif Friday said he has been ousted from the office but he remains in the hearts of the people.

Addressing a huge crowd in Gujranwala, he asked the people if they accepted the court decision against him and declared their ‘no’ to be a referendum in his favour.

He reiterated his claim of being innocent and said that millions of people had voted to elect him but ‘a few hands conspired’ against him.

Saying that he was committed to wage struggle for sanctity of vote and national progress, the deposed leader of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz asked people to support him in preventing such dethronements in future.

Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court of the country on July 28 over an apparently minor technicality following a months-long investigation into the business affairs of his family over corruption allegations by opposition parties.

The case emanating from the Panama Papers has also resulted in serious future challenges for him and his family as the apex court has ordered prosecuting them in the accountability court in light of the evidence gathered by a joint investigation team.

Staying relatively silent for a couple of weeks after court verdict, the deposed premier is now making a thunderous homecoming. He is leading a rally on GT Road, which began on Wednesday from Islamabad and is expected to conclude in Lahore today.

"I don't expect you to reinstate me, but I want you to support me for the betterment of this country. Wait for my call to join me in the struggle against such elements as have disgraced the democratic right of the people,” he said.

“I ask you to pledge today that you will not let your mandate be disgraced again; that you will join me when I call you [for support],” he said to a frenzied crowed.

He said until the mandate of the people was respected, Pakistan couldn't make progress.

"We have to make sure that the mandate of the people is respected in the future, we have to make sure no conspiracy against an elected prime minister succeeds in the future, we have to make sure that nobody dares in future to send an elected government home in a matter of seconds, and we will do it in the best interest of the people and the country.”

Even before the court announced its judgment, the PML-N leadership has been saying that a conspiracy was being hatched against their central leadership and their government. They explicitly called opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of Imran Khan of being part of the conspiracy but kept suggesting –without taking name – that it was actually the army which was behind this push against Nawaz Sharif.

In his address in Jhelum on Thursday, Nawaz Sharif even criticised the five judges of the Supreme Court who decided against him in way that led the opposition to demand a contempt of court against him.

In Gujranwala speech, the ousted PM again stressed that no corruption allegation was proved against him but the judges sent him home even then.

“Do you agree with their decision?” he asked to the people. "It happened with me for the third time. Is this not an insult to your vote?" he remarked

He then declared that “this gathering here serves as a referendum and the court of the people of Pakistan has given its verdict in my favour. The people have not accepted the court decision against me; it implies that the entire country has rejected the court decision”.

Nawaz Sharif said that 18 prime ministers have been dismissed in Pakistan’s 70 years history but on the other hand three dictators ruled the country for over 30 years. He said Pakistan was not for few influential personalities and no one has a right to deny the democratic right of the people.

Talking about the achievements of his government, he said they put the country on the path of prosperity. He said loadshedding was about to be overcome, and CPEC will change the fate of Pakistan. But some negative figures were trying to stop the prosperity of the country through Dharnas and conspiracies, he added.

Nawaz Sharif thanked the people of Gujranwala for according him a warm welcome and promised that he would work for their betterment and prosperity.

He also expressed sorrow over the death of a child who was crushed under a vehicle that was part of his caravan. He said he would soon visit the house of the deceased and heirs will be provided all kind of help.

Earlier, the former prime minister was warmly welcomed by the people who had gathered in large numbers on both sides of the GT Road, chanting slogans and dancing to drumbeats.

Prominent among the local PML-N leaders who received Nawaz were: Defence Minister Khuram Dastgir; MNAs Usman Ibrahim, Mehmood Bashir Virk, ShaziaSohail Mir and Mian Tariq; MPAs Toufeeq Butt, Imran Butt, Ashraf Ansari, Nawaz Chohan, Pir Ghulam Fareed and Abdul Rauf Mughal; Mayor Sheikh SarwatIkram and Deputy Mayor Salman Khalid.

Tight security arrangements had been made along GT Road, with the deployment of plain-clothed policemen as well as Elite Force commandos.

Nawaz Sharif was to take a night stay at the residence of Babu Asif, a close relative of the defence minister, before proceeding towards Lahore today.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Aug-2017 here.