ISLAMABAD -  It was a mixed of excitement and anxiety on the face of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership and workers who on Thursday welcomed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif outside the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) as soon as he showed up to testify before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Panama Papers case involving the Sharif family.

Though the leaders and the workers seemed to be in high spirit to express solidarity with the prime minister, they were equally concerned over the ongoing proceedings of the JIT.

“Anything can happen,” said Muhammad Saleem, a PML-N worker, when asked what he was anticipating from the JIT proceedings.

A PML-N worker from the Barakahu area of Islamabad, who was present outside the FJA building to express solidarity with his leader, was, however, optimistic that the JIT will not find anything wrong with the money trail of the Sharif family that led to the purchase of flats in question.

The premier accompanied by his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, son Hussain Nawaz, nephew Hamza Shahbaz and other PML-N leader arrived at the FJA in a white-coloured vehicle around 11 am. There was no protocol and flag on the vehicle but the premier reached the complex amidst tight security. PM’s son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar, Political Adviser Asif Kirmani, Principal Secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad and other officials travelled along with the PM to the FJA building.

The prime minister, who was wearing Shalwar Kameez and a waistcoat, waved to the camera crew, a large number of party leaders and workers before entering the FJA building.

Around 40 parliamentarians were present to express solidarity with the premier. Federal ministers Ishaq Dar and Khawaja Asif tried to enter the academy but the police stopped them. Hanif Abbasi, Danial Aziz, Abid Sher Ali and other leaders of PML-N were also present.

The party had barred the workers from joining the prime minister’s cavalcade at the FJA. Despite the premier’s instructions, hundreds of PML-N workers had shown up to express solidarity with PM Sharif. Only the prime minister and his personal secretary were allowed to enter the building. The strength of the PML-N workers swelled with the passage of time.

The PML-N leaders and workers including lawyers and women were stopped at a distance from the |FJA building. Carrying banners and placards, the charged workers raised slogans such as “Mian terey jaan nisar be shumar be shumar”, “dekho dekho kon aya, sher aya, sher aya” and “dil dia hey jaan bhe dain gay”.

They also raised slogans against PTI leader Imran Khan and continued chanting slogans until the prime minister left the venue. The workers dispersed peacefully after the PM left the FJA after appearing before the JIT team.

A large number of security personnel, representatives of intelligence agencies, barbed wires, closed roads, police commandos on horses and women police officials portrayed the security arrangements that had been put in place to ensure a fool-proof security for the premier. Strict security arrangements had been made around the FJA building with multiple tiers of security cordon with police and FC personnel in riot gear.

Islamabad Police Inspector General and representatives of Islamabad district administration were also present.

Traffic police guided road-users as some of the roads adjacent to the venue were closed for traffic. Snipers had taken positions on rooftops of buildings around the FJA building.

Earlier in the day, the personal security staff of the PM visited the FJA complex to clear the security. Minister of State Abid Sher Ali led Zuhr prayer outside a venue as workers waited for the PM outside the FJA building.