Sharifs expected to meet Saudi crown prince, other officials in Riyadh today


RIYADH Dec 31 (TNS): Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday night, confirming sources’ statement earlier in the day that he would be travelling to the Kingdom and would return on January 2, 2018, for the next hearing of the corruption cases against him.

Nawaz,  who also leads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was welcomed at Riyadh airport by Khan Hasham bin Siddique, the country’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The ex-prime minister joins his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, both of whom are already in the Kingdom.

Nawaz and Shehbaz are expected to meet the Saudi crown prince and other senior officials of the Kingdom today. Shehbaz performed Umrah on Saturday and is expected to join his brother in Riyadh today.

A few days ago, Mussadiq Malik, the adviser to incumbent Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, said Shehbaz is on a personal visit to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.

Reports, based on PML-N sources, had stated earlier that the Sharif brothers are also expected to tour London after concluding their trip to the Kingdom.

Not ‘necessary’ that trips are political

A day earlier, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah while speaking on a private TV channel had said the Sharif brothers will discuss the issues the Muslim Ummah and the region face at present during their visit.

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 had said.

On the other hand, Sanaullah had, however, rejected the opponents’ speculation that the former prime minister was trying to obtain another National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

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

Separately, in Quetta, Minister of Interior Ahsan Iqbal had downplayed the Sharif duo’s trip to the Kingdom, saying Muslims gather there all year round for religious purposes.

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

Similarly, Climate Change Minister Mushahidullah Khan had commented that Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Pakistani politics is nothing new.