Raja Riaz, former leader of the opposition in the National Assembly (NA), joined Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after meeting with the party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif in London, it emerged on Saturday.
Talking to journalists before his meeting with the PML-N leadership in London, Riaz hinted at contesting the upcoming general elections from Faisalabad. He said that the matter would be discussed with the PML-N supremo and clarified, “It is not necessary that a decision [in this regard] is made today.”
Responding to a question, he said that PML-N had a large vote bank in Pakistan as people believe that the country was made by the party. He maintained that the PML-N supremo would be given a grand welcome upon return.
Nawaz — who has been in self-imposed exile in London since November 2019 owing to health reasons — was disqualified in 2017 by the Supreme Court for not declaring a receivable salary.
On September 12, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif announced, “Nawaz Sharif will reach Pakistan on October 21.”
To another query, the former leader of the opposition said that elections are likely to take place around mid-February next year.
During the meeting, Riaz expressed his confidence in Nawaz’s leadership and joined the PML-N. Former prime minister Shehbaz, ex-finance minister Ishaq Dar and other leaders were also present during the meeting.
Riaz won a MNA seat on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ticket in the 2018 general election but the party terminated his basic membership for violating the party discipline.
“174 members have recorded their votes in favour of the resolution, consequently the resolution for the vote on no-confidence against Mr Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, has been passed by a majority,” Ayaz Sadiq announced after the process of voting was completed.
PTI formally expelled Riaz in August 2023.
It is pertinent to mention here that Riaz had been a “jiyala” for 35 years. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader had jumped the ship and joined PTI in May 2016.