Nawaz leaves today to join Shehbaz, Saad Rafique in Saudi Arabia


LAHORE Dec. 30 (TNS): Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif leaves for Saudi Arabia today, where he will join his brother, the Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.

Nawaz will depart for Riyadh today afternoon and is expected to return on Jan 2, 2018, in time for his next court hearing, said sources.

During the Saudi visit, the PML-N leadership is expected to meet with important personalities including Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Earlier on Friday, Saad Rafique left for Saudi Arabia along with his family, after Chief Minister Shehbaz reached Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

Sources stated that 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 said the Sharif brothers will discuss issues being faced by the Muslim Ummah 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,” he said, rejecting speculation by opponents that Nawaz was trying to get another National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

“If Saudi Arabia is getting an NRO done then where is the other party?” Sanaullah remarked.

Alluding to PTI chairman Imran Khan, the minister added that if the opponents “resort to sit-ins again so close to the elections, the opponents will be the ones to bear losses.”

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, during a visit to Quetta earlier, played down the visits to Saudi Arabia saying all year round Muslims gather in Saudi Arabia for religious purposes.

“It isn’t necessary that the trips are political in nature,” he said.

During a meeting with party members in Raiwind on Friday, Nawaz Sharif called former dictator Pervez Musharraf a “coward”.

“If Musharraf has any courage he should come to Pakistan and face the courts,” said the former premier, adding that it was “high time those breaking the Constitution were punished.”