JEHLUM, Pakistan — Pakistan’s deposed prime minister on Thursday criticized the country’s Supreme Court judges for disqualifying him from office, pledging to keep up his quest for justice even as the crowds following his “caravan of democracy” road rally dwindled.
Nawaz Sharif embarked on an on-the-road rally on Wednesday from Islamabad, heading to his hometown of Lahore.
His convoy, traveling amid tight security along the Grand Trunk Road linking the Pakistani capital and the eastern city of Lahore, initially drew tens of thousands of people, but the crowds were much smaller on Thursday.
At a speech during a stop in the town of Jehlum, Sharif noted that he was voted into office by the people but judges ousted him. “I was removed in a minute,” he said.
“It is not an insult to an elected prime minister, but an insult to millions of voters,” he said.
Sharif stepped down after the Supreme Court’s July 28 decision, but says he did it reluctantly.
The thrice-elected premier’s dismissal left Pakistan briefly in limbo but Sharif’s ruling party, which holds a comfortable majority in the country’s Parliament, promptly elected Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as his successor.
As new prime minister, Abbasi has ordered special measures for Sharif’s safety.
In 2007, a bomb and gun attack killed Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto during an election rally in Rawalpindi.
Sharif held a rally in Rawalpindi after sundown on Wednesday.
He served three separate stints as premier but never completed a full term in office. In 1993, then-President Ghulam Ishaq Khan removed him on corruption allegations. And in 1999, Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized power in a coup.
Associated Press Writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this story.