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Nawaz Sharif to depart for Saudi Arabia today amid NRO speculations

LAHORE: One after another PML-N top leaders departing for Saudi Arabia ahead of the party supremo Nawaz Sharif ’s visit to Kingdom on Saturday (today) has been fueling speculations about a possible National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) like deal.

The ruling party has been playing down the party leaders’ visits to the Kingdom after being averse to officially comment anything about the visits.

However, the political quarters suspecting Sharifs either to take their old Saudi friends into confidence before adopting a major change in party ranks or striking an NRO-like deal through the good offices of the Saudi royals.

Ousted PM Nawaz Sharif is to hold meetings with the top Saudi leadership, including King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, and “discuss with them various aspects of friendly bilateral relation between two Muslim brotherly states”, a Sharif-family friend informed media.

The PML-N leadership has also rescheduled a public gathering in Sargodha, wherein Sharif was to address the rally.

The opposition parties are deeming the visits as a step towards winning an NRO deal for the cases being faced by the Sharifs in courts amid growing demand of resignations from Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Special plane to receive Shahbaz Sharif

Earlier, on late Wednesday night, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had departed for Saudi Arabia to hold ‘important’ meetings with Saudi officials, besides performing Umra.

The sources then said the chief minister was also expected to meet Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.

In an official press release it was said that the chief minister would hold key meetings in the Kingdom. However, no further details were shared about the nature of meetings.

It was learnt that Shahbaz travelled in a special plane sent by the Kingdom for him.

The analysts then said arrival of a special plane to receive the Punjab chief minister signified that he was acceptable to the Saudi Kingdom for the top office in Pakistan.

On Friday, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique had also left for Saudi Arabia after Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Saad Rafique along with his family boarded a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-759 at Allama Iqbal International Airport on Friday for Jeddah after departure of key PML-N leaders including Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.



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