Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed on Tuesday that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will be travelling to London tonight as part of a PML-N delegation to meet party supremo Nawaz Sharif.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside Power Minister Khurram Dastgir, she noted that several media channels were airing the news that PML-N members were going to visit Nawaz in London, which she said the government's opponents were blowing out of proportion.
"PML-N members are going on a private visit to London to meet with Nawaz Sharif," she said, adding that PM Shehbaz would also be travelling for this purpose.
However, the minister appeared to downplay the matter by saying that the process of consultation was not unusual among political parties. "This is not that big of an issue but those who have nothing to say and nothing to show for their performance [...] have found a topic."
The information minister also emphasised that a PML-N delegation was going to meet with Nawaz for consultations, which was an ongoing process.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said a delegation of the PML-N comprising eight to 10 people was heading to London in a private airline to hold a "goodwill meeting" with the party founder.
"Ever since we took the oath, we have been thinking of meeting our leader," Asif told reporters.
He insisted that the trip was not a political one, saying the party leader was currently in London, hence the PML-N representatives decided to meet him.
The minister, however, said the delegation will have political consultation with the leader "and we will take instructions from him".
Several PML-N sources had confirmed the development to Dawn.com earlier today. One source in London said that the premier would be travelling with five or six ministers late on Tuesday so that he could arrive by tomorrow morning.
The source added that PM Shehbaz would remain in London for two to three days to meet with Nawaz. However, the source was not privy to the names of the people who would be accompanying the prime minister.
Separately, a PML-N leader — who wished to remain anonymous — said that it was "accurate" that PM Shehbaz would be travelling to London.
So far, the exact purpose of the trip remains unclear.
Nawaz, who is convicted in a corruption case, has been living in London on the pretext of ill health since November 2019, when the Lahore High Court had allowed him to leave the country for four weeks for medical treatment after Shehbaz, his younger brother, gave an undertaking that the senior Sharif would return within the stipulated time. Later, Nawaz sought extensions to prolong his stay in London on medical grounds.
Last month, Nawaz had also conducted meetings with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who was later appointed Pakistan's federal minister.
The two had agreed to implement the left-out clauses of the Charter of Democracy (CoD), signed by the two parties some 16 years ago and to finalise a roadmap for the future with the consensus of all democratic forces.