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What’s behind the Sharifs’ trip to Saudi?

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Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif left for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in the midst of corruption allegations and political turmoil. He is said to have left for an important meeting but the purpose of the meeting has not been publicly stated which has raised suspicions amongst opposition political circles. Nawaz Sharif will depart for Saudi today, following his brother.

PML-N has been in a political crisis ever since the opening of the Panama case. Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the apex court on 28th July 2017 based on article 62(1)(f) of the constitution in the Panama Case. Three corruption references were also filed against the former PM and his family.

Nothing can be said about the visit with certainty but it does seem like some huge developments will take place that will shape the whole political scenario in the near future.

Their troubles did not end with the ruling; it was merely the start of their predicament. The amendment to restore Nawaz Sharif as the party head started a new crisis when the ruling party changed a clause pertaining to the ‘Khatam-e-Nabuwat issue. Religious zealots took to the streets and it ended with a one-sided deal, making the government look utterly helpless.

The disqualification of Nawaz Sharif sparked a new debate of his succession, while Shehbaz appeared to be his natural heir. Nawaz didn’t want to pass the reins on to his brother. He seemed reluctant leaned towards wanting his daughter Maryam to rule the party after him. This indicated an internal rift within the Sharif family.

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If all of this wasn’t enough, the Model Town Incident Judicial report by Justice Baqar Najafi was made public on the orders of the Lahore High Court. The report pointed the blame at the police and the local government, putting the N-league in a quandary. Dr. Tahir Ul Qadri threatened the government with a sit-in if all responsible parties for the incident were not punished.

PTI leader Imran Khan accused the Sharif brothers of the same thing, he said that he would take to the streets if PML-N signs a new NRO deal with the help of Saudi Arabia.

He has been backed by the PPP and PTI leadership. Lastly, on the day of Shehbaz Sharif’s departure, another corruption reference was filed against the Sharif brothers in NAB over the illegal construction of a two-way road from Raiwind to their residence in 2000.

 After being cornered from all sides, the PML-N decided to put behind their internal differences and unite for survival. The current visit to Saudi Arabia appears to be a part of it. They are looking for allies. The Saudi royal family has been an old friend of the Sharif’s and they hosted them for 7 years during their exile. It is also speculated that Shehbaz Sharif went there to build his stature as the next PM of Pakistan.

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The political situation in Pakistan has created skepticism in our investors about the future of the country. The recent visit by the PM and Chief of Army Staff also emphasized on the economic crisis and an economic package was announced by Saudi as a part of understanding. The Sharif family could be going there to discuss the same issue and give further assurances to their Saudi allies.

The PPP opposition leader Khurshid Shah, on Friday said that the Sharif brothers appear to be signing a new NRO deal, and it would be a cause of great humiliation for the nation if we have to ask foreign powers to resolve our inner disputes.

It could also be a move to win back their trust since tensions rose high among the two when Pakistan refused to send their forces to Yemen, to help in the Saudi war. The Sharif family might also ask for assistance to ease down the political tensions and help them out of this crisis because their party still has the strength to come back in the next elections. With Shehbaz at the front, the N-league could revive with a new vigor that was lacking after Nawaz’s disqualification.

The opposition parties are accusing the Sharif brothers of trying to sign a new NRO deal with the help of their Saudi allies. The PPP opposition leader Khurshid Shah, on Friday said that the Sharif brothers appear to be signing a new NRO deal, and it would be a cause of great humiliation for the nation if we have to ask foreign powers to resolve our inner disputes.

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PTI leader Imran Khan accused the Sharif brothers of the same thing, he said that he would take to the streets if PML-N signs a new NRO deal with the help of Saudi Arabia, he also claimed that no one can see the Sharif family from accountability and justice.

Nothing can be said about the visit with certainty but it does seem like some huge developments will take place that will shape the whole political scenario in the near future. With the elections just around the corner, all parties can be expected to make alliances and exploit every possible resource to get the upper hand over the others.


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