­LAHORE - PML-N President and former Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has claimed lakhs of people participated in the party’s rally that took place in the city on Friday to receive Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on their return from London.

“It was a sea of people that came from every nook and corner of the city and outside. I never saw such a mammoth rally of people and their enthusiasm in my whole political life. The workers gathered on their own despite the fact that a large number of workers were arrested and stopped on their way from various cities of Punjab and other provinces,” the former chief minister told the media at Model Town. He said it was a sea of people in Lahore, but the rally remained so peaceful on his appeal that not a single flower pot was damaged.

The former chief minister appeared highly shocked that the media did not give adequate coverage to the PML-N rally and only showed a part of it whereas all the media channels kept on thorough coverage to the PTI dharna in August 2014.

He told a questioner that he wanted to reach the airport, but the crowd was so huge that they could go up to Dharampura where he announced dispersal of the rally at midnight.

Shehbaz Sharif strongly opposed the jail trial of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, terming it contrary to the norms of law and justice. “Only terrorists are tried in jail,” he said, adding the jail trial order of the Sharifs was sheer violation of the law which was not seen even in the Musharraf era when they faced the plane hijack case in the open court. He asked the relevant departments not to pass such orders.

Shehbaz Sharif said they will adopt every legal and political way against the conviction of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz and announced the party candidates will be asked to wear black bands and lodge protest at their corner meetings. Shehbaz Sharif said the trial court failed to find any evidence of corruption against Nawaz Sharif and there was no proof of any property in question in his name. Even then Nawaz and his daughter were convicted, he added.

He also grilled Imran Khan, calling him ‘Bohtan Khan’ who has gathered the most corrupt and dishonest people, but the NAB is not taking action against them. There are many others who devoured billions and trillions of rupees of the national exchequer, but are at large and no action is being taken against them, he said, adding only PML-N is being targeted and pushed to the wall. “Such measures amount to pre-poll rigging and cast doubts on the transparency of the elections,” Shehbaz said, urging the Election Commission and the Supreme Court to take notice of it. “We will not accept the results if polls are not held in a fair and free manner. The PML-N will lodge protest taking on board all political forces in the country and frame a joint roadmap for future action,” he warned.

He appealed to all institutions to play their role for free and fair polls. He warned unwise decisions of the caretaker government can also weaken democracy in the country. The enemies of the country are already on the prowl to see dwindling democracy, he added.

When his attention was drawn to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s condemnation on the arrests of the PML-N workers, Shehbaz Sharif expressed his graduate to him. He said all political forces need to work together for the bright future of democracy.

Shehbaz Sharif condemned Mastung and Bannu suicide attacks and expressed deep sense of grief over the loss of at least 132 innocent lives. He supported the point of view of the intelligence agencies that the attacks were sponsored by India and said there were proofs that in the past New Delhi had been perpetrating terror acts in Pakistan.

Shehbaz censured Imran Khan on his statement that whenever Nawaz Sharif is in trouble, terror attacks increase.

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, former ministers and PML-N legislators were present on the occasion.