ISLAMABAD: After a five-day stay in the United Kingdom, apparently to have a threadbare discussion with his elder brother and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif on key issues, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif left London for Pakistan on Sunday.

The prime minister will arrive in Islamabad on Monday (today), Infor­mation Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed.

The prime minister was supposed to fly back from London on Friday but he extended his stay for two days, apparently due to health reasons, media reports said.

During his visit, the premier reportedly discussed with Nawaz Sharif key issues, including the appointment of the new army chief, matters linked to next elections, strategy for dealing with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, and regaining lost political capital.

It was decided that the issue of the appointment of new army chief army was a constitutional matter and thus it will be dealt with accordingly.

A source familiar with the matter said it was decided at the meetings that the appointment of the new army chief will be made purely on merit. The tenure of incumbent COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is expiring on Nov 27.

It may be noted that Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal had said that the announcement regarding the appointment of the new army chief will be made before Nov 29 and the premier will take the ruling alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), into confidence on the decision taken during the London meetings.

Last week, Prime Minister Sharif had gone to London after the conclusion of a two-day conference on climate in Egypt. When he left Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday night, he tweeted “Off to Pakistan”. But then, he changed his plans and decided instead to stop off in Qatar, from where he took a commercial flight to London to meet Nawaz Sharif.

He only took his personal staff with him to London, while the other members of the entourage travelling with him arrived in Islamabad following the climate moot.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2022

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