Nawaz to join Shehbaz, Saad Rafique in Saudi Arabia

LAHORE: The top leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will be in Saudi Arabia over the weekend as Nawaz Sharif — the PML-N president and former prime minister — will depart for the kingdom on Saturday.

Nawaz will leave on Saturday afternoon and is expected to return on Jan 2, 2018, in time for his next court hearing, said, media reported.

That the Nawaz will hold meetings with important personalities while in Saudi.

Earlier today, Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique left for Saudi Arabia along with his family.
Travelling in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-759, the minister left for Jeddah from Allama Iqbal International Airport.
Nawaz’s brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, is already in Saudi Arabia. He left Lahore for Medina on Wednesday and was expected to hold meetings with senior Saudi officials.

That the Sharif brothers are also expected to visit London after concluding their trip to the kingdom.

Speaking to the media in Quetta, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal 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 added.

Earlier on Thursday, in a press briefing, Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said Rafique’s statement “doesn’t appear to be unintended”.

“The statement is very irresponsible and unwarranted as you are targeting the chain of command and the subordination system of Pakistan Army,” said the military spokesperson.
Rafique, while addressing a ceremony on December 24, had praised the army chief for briefing the Senate and had said it was a confidence-boosting move for everyone.
The minister had said there was no difference in the narrative and added that the army chief had talked in favour of democratic norms and continuity.
However, Rafique had said others should also support the army chief’s stance on whom “his command is applied to”.
“They should also follow that order,” he had commented, adding that those who do mischiefs should also support the army chief.

However, following the DG ISPR’s comments, Rafique had said his statement was being misinterpreted in the media.

Shehbaz Sharif also held a brief meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Thursday.

He was also expected to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, among other senior Saudi officials, during his tour to the Kingdom.

He arrived in Medina after leaving Pakistan on Wednesday in a special plane sent by Riyadh.
However, according to Mussadiq Malik — the prime minister’s adviser — Shehbaz is on a personal visit to the Kingdom and will also perform Umrah.
Earlier, media reported that the visit takes place after Shehbaz’s meeting with the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan on Saturday in Lahore.