LAHORE: Amid rumours of secret talks with the power players in Riyadh for securing what their opponents call a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)-type deal, deposed premier Nawaz Sharif on Saturday left for Saudi Arabia, where he will join his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Sources in the ruling party said senior leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is expected to meet Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and other top Saudi leadership. A meeting between Sharif and Turkish Premier Binali Yıldırım is also expected during this visit, the PML-N sources disclosed.
According to the sources, after completing the trip to Saudi Arabia, Sharif brothers are also expected to visit London and will return home on January 2 before the next hearing of an accountability court which is trying Sharif and his family members for alleged corruption.
Earlier on Friday, Railways Minister Saad Rafique also left for Saudi Arabia along with his family. CM Shehbaz, who has been in the kingdom since earlier this week, has held various meetings with top Saudi leadership.
Sharif brothers’ sudden programme to visit Saudi Arabia has triggered speculations among political circles. Almost all opposition parties say Sharif brothers are trying to get another NRO ahead of the general election, but this time people of Pakistan will not let this happen.
Major political parties – the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) – have already rejected any such possibility and warned that they will not accept any such move.
However, official the PML-N claims that Sharif brothers are not trying to get any NRO but are visiting Saudi Arabia to discuss challenges faced by the Muslim world.
Speaking during a talk show, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Sharifs were visiting Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and discuss issues being faced by the Muslim Ummah and the region. “They are not in the kingdom to discuss the national issues. Rumours about another NRO are propaganda,” he said.