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Nawaz Sharif’s Saudi Arabia visit should set alarm bells ringing for Imran Khan?

Islamabad: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has invited Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to the kingdom to perform Umrah, Geo News reported citing sources.

The sources said Nawaz Sharif will be the royal guest in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He would spend the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan in Medina and Makkah.

Veteran journalist Nasir Baig Chughtai said that Nawaz Sharif fell out of favor with the Saudis for not sending Pakistani troops to Yemen.

He said that at the time when the decision on the Yemen war was made, the Saudis were already angry with Sharif for breaking his agreement with former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

“It appears that path is clear now. It is Saudi tradition that when they end their resentment with someone, they usually do not allow a meeting with the King”.

He said sending an invitation means that Sharif has been invited to Makkah as a royal guest after a slow progress in improvement of relations between the two sides.

The journalist said that Sharif’s stay in Saudi Arabia and the royal invitation is very important and will go a long way.

It is also being speculated that Sharif’s visit may result in gaining sovereign guarantees needed to unlock the IMF Staff Level Agreement with Pakistan.

The report comes at a time when Nawaz Sharif’s party is under immense pressure built by former prime minister Imran Khan.

Although Khan appears to be the most popular Pakistani leader, his clash with the country’s powerful military establishment has put a big question mark on his political future.

Sources said that Khan’s relations with Saudis were not ideal when he served as the prime minister and his allies in the military and bureaucracy attempted to mislead Saudi diplomats about incumbent Army Chief General Asim Munir at the time of his appointment.

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