Shehbaz Sharif stayed back in London

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ISLAMABAD:  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was supposed to head to Pakistan on Friday night from London, but in a late-night development, the PM apparently changed his plans and stayed on in London.

According to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, PM Shehbaz had extended his stay in London for a day.

She had earlier shared a video showing Nawaz seeing off the PM from London after a marathon meeting that lasted over two hours.

A source close to the PM said that Shehbaz Sharif had discussed key issues with his self-exiled brother as well as party leader Maryam Nawaz, who is also currently in London.

It has been learnt that the appointment of the next army chief, expected before the end of the month, and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) long march against the government remained the focal points of the meetings.

According to the source, PM Sharif maintained the appointment of army chief was a constitutional matter and would be dealt with constitutionally, and made purely on merit.

Meanwhile, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said in a statement on Friday that the announcement regarding a new army chief would be made before Nov 29.

“The appointment [of army chief] will be made on the day the PM will receive a summary,” he remarked.

Regarding the premier’s meetings with Nawaz Sharif in London, he said Shehbaz would take the allied parties into confidence after his return to the country. There was a possibility that the PM would also apprise his cabinet of his meetings with his elder brother and any decision made regarding the all-important appointment and the PTI’s long march.

Mr Iqbal also insisted the appointment would be made on merit and not keeping in view any benefit to the government, questioning what advantage former prime ministers had gained by appointing army chiefs.

“Former prime ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appointed Gen Ziaul Haq and Nawaz Sharif appointed Gen Pervez Musharraf as army chiefs, so what benefit did they both get?” he asked.

The minister said Nawaz had appointed Gen Bajwa during his last tenure and the decision had been hailed by PTI chief Imran Khan.

Regarding the possible return of the PML-N supreme leader from the UK, especially after receiving a passport, he said: “He [Nawaz] will return when the time comes.”

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