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Nawaz arrives in Saudi Arabia amid speculations about ‘political settlement’

RIYADH: After his brother Shahbaz Sharif and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif arrived here on Saturday night for a planned meeting of the party amid speculations about a political settlement to get off the hook in the making.

With absence of any official statement about the party’s top leadership’s departure to the kingdom, speculations are rife that the former premier is on a mission to seek help of his old friends in Riyadh to get away with the corruption charges he is facing.

Sharif landed at Riyadh airport on Saturday night and was greeted by Khan Hasham bin Siddique, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The Punjab chief minister is already in Saudi Arabia on an official visit. The Saudi government had sent a special plane for him to travel to the kingdom on Wednesday.

According to media reports, Sharif will meet the top leadership, including King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, to discuss important matters, including friendly relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The opposition parties have dubbed the visits as a step towards winning a reconciliation like National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) to escape from the corruption charges the Sharifs are facing in courts amid growing clamour for the resignations of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Special plane for Shahbaz’s travel to Saudi Arabia

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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