Raja Riaz, who once led the opposition in Pakistan’s National Assembly, has become a member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) following a meeting with the party’s leader, Nawaz Sharif, in London.
Before this crucial meeting with the PML-N’s leadership in the English capital, Riaz interacted with the press. During this interaction, he suggested he consider running in the impending general elections representing Faisalabad. He noted that the final decision regarding his candidacy would be broached during discussions with Sharif, stressing that “it isn’t mandatory to finalize [this matter] today”.
Addressing a journalist’s query, Riaz acknowledged the substantial support base that PML-N has within Pakistan, with many attributing the party to the formation of the nation. He further asserted that Sharif, the party’s supremo, would receive a hearty welcome upon his return to the country.
Nawaz Sharif’s Anticipated Return
It is pertinent to note that Sharif has been residing in London on a self-imposed exile since November 2019, largely attributed to health concerns. His political journey faced turbulence in 2017 when the Supreme Court disqualified him for failing to declare a receivable salary. However, the political landscape seems to be shifting, with Shehbaz Sharif, another former prime minister, announcing that “Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to return to Pakistan on October 21”.
Responding to further questions, the seasoned politician predicted that the upcoming elections will be around mid-February next year.
Riaz’s Journey From PTI to PML-N
During the official induction meeting, Riaz echoed his faith in Nawaz’s leadership, marking his entry into the PML-N’s folds. This significant meeting also saw the presence of dignitaries like Shehbaz Sharif and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
Recalling Riaz’s political trajectory, he secured a seat in the National Assembly under the banner of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during the 2018 general elections. However, his tenure with PTI ended abruptly due to an alleged breach of party discipline, culminating in his expulsion in August 2023. It is noteworthy that Riaz had a long-standing association as a “Jiyala” for 35 years before he switched allegiance to PTI in May 2016.