Nawaz Sharif to meet Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince in Kingdom

Nawaz Sharif to meet Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince in Kingdom

ISLAMABAD - A seat has been booked in Nawaz Sharif’s name for a Jeddah-bound flight for Saturday.

A public meeting he was to address in Sargodha on Sunday (Dec 31) has been rescheduled for Jan 6 because of his unavailability.

The Punjab chief minister is already in Saudi Arabia on an “official” visit. The Saudi government had sent a special plane for his travel to the kingdom on Wednesday. He is believed to have prepared the ground for the visit of his elder brother.

Nawaz Sharif will meet the top Saudi leadership, including King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, and “discuss with them various aspects of friendly relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia”, a family friend said, but did not elaborate further.

For lack of a clear agenda of the visit, the opposition interprets it as a step towards winning the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) for the embattled Sharifs who are facing multiple cases in courts and challenges in the political field.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party objected to the Sharifs’ Saudi visit, saying it was tantamount to humiliating a nuclear power by inviting foreigners to interfere in its internal affairs.

“It looks like the matter is towards [seeking] forgiveness and that an NRO may be on the horizon,” he said in Lahore, adding: “If such a situation arises, I think we’ll have to shut our courts and go home.”

Mr Shah said he felt sorry to see that foreigners were being involved in local matters, adding that “if Saudi Arabia intervenes [for reconciliation between the Sharifs and the establishment] it will be shameful that Pakistan — a nuclear power — cannot make its own decisions”.

He saw a big difference between the NRO signed by the PPP with former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf and the one the N-League was trying to strike now.

In Islamabad, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan vowed to resist the Sharifs’ move for winning another NRO.