In one of the worst-kept secrets, former PTI leader Raja Riaz on Saturday officially joined the PML-N — the very party against whose government he served as the opposition leader in the National Assembly until August.
The PML-N confirmed the development following Riaz’s meeting in London with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and party president Shehbaz Sharif.
The PML-N said Riaz expressed his “complete confidence” in the three-time prime minister’s leadership during their meeting.
The public announcement of his membership was later made by Shehbaz in a media talk in London. He expressed hope Riaz’s inclusion would lend “great strength” to the party.
Riaz thanked the Sharifs for reposing their trust in him. He said he would play his role in “improving and enhancing the party, and welcoming Nawaz to Pakistan upon his return”.
He was appointed the opposition leader in the National Assembly in May 2022 following the ouster of the PTI government. He was one of the most prominent PTI dissidents and was expelled by the party in August 2023.
Riaz’s joining of the PML-N would surprise only a few — if any — as after leading the PTI exodus last year, he had publicly acknowledged that he wished to contest the next elections on a PML-N ticket.
Riaz rewarded for rendering ‘countless services’ to PML-N as opposition leader’
Former PTI colleague Fawad Chaudhry quipped that Riaz had rendered “countless services” for the previous government in his role as the opposition leader and his membership was only a “token of gratitude”.
PTI leader Taimur Jhagra was more direct in his criticism.