LAHORE – Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday evening left for Saudi Arabia, where he will join his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.
Nawaz, who departed for Riyadh from Lahore, is expected to return on Jan 2, 2018, in time for his next court hearing. The ousted PM is facing a few corruption cases in the country, which were initiated after his forced disqualification by the Supreme Court in the wake of Panama Papers revelations.
During the visit to KSA, the PML-N leadership is expected to meet with important personalities, including Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Turkish premier Binali Yıldırım.
“The visit is being considered high significance against current situation of Pakistan and regional happenings,” sources confided to Daily Pakistan.
Sources added that Pakistan had eliminated misapprehensions between two brotherly states that emanated after PML-N govt’s refusal to dispatch armed forces to war-torn Yemen.
Earlier on Friday, Saad Rafique left for Saudi Arabia along with his family, a day after CM Shehbaz reached Saudi Arabia.
Media reports suggest the Sharif brothers are also expected to visit London after concluding their trip to the kingdom.
According to Mussadiq Malik – the prime minister’s adviser – Shehbaz is on a personal visit to the kingdom and will also perform Umrah.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told a private TV channel that the Sharif brothers will discuss issues being faced by the Muslim Ummah and the region during their visit to Saudi Arabia.
“They [Nawaz and Shehbaz] will not be talking about national matters, they will be discussing issues being faced by the Muslim world and the region,” he said, rejecting speculation by opponents that Nawaz was trying to get another National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
Earlier on Thursday, National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua met former premier Nawaz Sharif at his Jati Umra residence in Raiwind.
The meeting which lasted for five hours sparked speculations about the possibility of a new NRO type settlement to ease embattled Sharif family off the judicial crises.
Apart from Sharif duo, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique is already in Saudi Arabia along with his family.
Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif departed for Saudi Arabia on a special plane on Wednesday and his dash to the oil-rich kingdom stirred a debate whether the Saudis were again ready to play a role of moderator between Pakistan’s establishment and former ruling family.
On the other hand, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Friday that the Sharifs had old ties with the kingdom and no one should have reservations about it.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that due to religious reasons one person or another visits the kingdom from time to time.
“It isn’t necessary that politics is brewing over there,” said the interior minister.