PM Shehbaz meets PML-N supremo Nawaz in London
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday met his elder brother and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in London.
No details regarding the meeting's agenda were disclosed.
The prime minister is in London with senior PML-N leadership as tensions run high on the political front. The prime minister's 10-member delegation consists of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Power Minister Khurram Dastagir, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, among others.
The information minister had announced the visit yesterday, adding that it was a private visit by PML-N leaders to meet their party leader.
In what seemed to be an attempt to downplay the significance of the trip to London, coming as it does while the country is in the throes of constitutional and economic crises, Aurangzeb had said the delegation would be holding consultations with Nawaz, which was an ongoing process and not unusual among political parties.
The trip was roundly criticised by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who said in a public meeting on Tuesday that the entire cabinet was going to meet a "corrupt and convicted" person, that too on taxpayers’ money.
Sources had told Dawn that PM Shehbaz Sharif departed for London via a British Airways flight shortly after midnight on Tuesday. It is expected that he will remain in London for two to three days.
The timing of the prime minister and his top leadership’s visit to London is being questioned, with observers asking why such a trip is necessary when the country is in dire straits.
Sources say that several key decisions may be taken in the meeting, including settling the question of early elections, developing a strategy to counter the PTI and prevent an oncoming price hike.
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 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.
Meanwhile, PTI leaders took exception to the premier's meeting with Nawaz with former human rights minister Shireen Mazari questioning how the prime minister and his cabinet could meet a convict to "discuss matters of government and state when all cabinet members are bound by Official Secrets Act".
Former minister for climate change Zartaj Gul was of the view that the meeting looked less like a strategy meeting of the new government and "more like a funeral gathering".