Saad Rafique leaves for Saudi to join Shahbaz ahead of Nawaz visit


LAHORE Dec 29 (TNS):   Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique on Friday left for Saudi Arabia after Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and with reports about Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif’s proposed visit to the Kingdom in a day or two, amid widespread speculations about the ruling party making efforts to regroup and strike a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) like deal with the powers which matter.

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.

The visits of PML-N leaders to the Kingdom are being made at the heel of Nawaz Sharif’s declaring Shahbaz, his younger brother, as his political heir.

The political pundits are of the opinion that the ruling party is trying to take their old Saudi friends into confidence before making a major change in the party ranks.

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif is expected to visit the Kingdom in next two days. The PML-N leadership has called off a scheduled public gathering in Sargodha, sources said.

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 then learnt that Shehbaz 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.