Police launch investigation into incident as PMLN leaders describe teenager as ‘first martyr’ of democracy movement
The motorcade of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif hit and killed on Friday a 13-year-old boy who had come to a rally against the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader’s ouster, officials said.
The ex-leader has been rallying crowds since Wednesday as he makes his way down the major road from capital Islamabad to his party’s stronghold in Lahore, weeks after he was deposed by the Supreme Court.
“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.
Railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique called the teenager “the first martyr of this movement for democracy” in an address to the thousands-strong crowd in nearby Gujrat. One of the vehicles in the motorcade 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 court’s decision, insisting his conscience was “clean” against allegations of corruption. 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 had turned out to catch a glimpse of Sharif as his convoy rolled down the 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 traveling in a bombproof vehicle especially designed for the journey.
The convoy is surrounded by heavy security, with fears lingering after a truck bomb exploded in Lahore on Monday, killing one person and injuring dozens.
Supporters gathered in Gujrat voiced frustration over the ex-prime minister’s ouster. Umair Mazhar, 26, insisted 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 prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history—roughly half of which has been spent under military rule—to be ousted before completing a full term.