Lahore  -   Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Monday claimed that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was regretful of his role in bailing out the Sharif family after the coup by General (r) Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

Hariri was one of those who had reportedly helped Nawaz strike a deal with Musharraf after the ex-PM was jailed by the former president on hijacking and terrorism charges.

Fawad tweeted that Hariri expressed his regret in a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday.

He claimed that Khan during his conversation with Hariri told the Lebanese prime minister that word is going around in Pakistan about “another NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance-like deal] for Nawaz Sharif”.

In response, according to Chaudhry, Hariri “raised both his hands to say it was a big mistake to have the Sharif family pardoned”.

The Lebanese premier said this was because the Sharifs “did not fulfil even one commitment and I [Hariri] had to face severe embarrassment”, the minister claimed. Nawaz Sharif’s second term as prime minister had ended as a result of the then army chief Pervez Musharraf’s coup in October 1999 and he was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in a hijacking case.

However, under an agreement with the Saudi royal family, for which Hariri stood as one of the guarantors, Sharif was released from jail in 2000, after which the former prime minister along with his family was sent to live in exile in Saudi Arabia as a guest of the royal family.

When Nawaz Sharif had decided to return to Pakistan from exile in 2007, Hariri and then Saudi chief of intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz at a press conference in Rawalpindi had urged the ex-PM not to return to Pakistan and abide by his agreement with King Abdullah which they said bound him to stay out of Pakistan for 10 years.

But Nawaz had claimed that he was verbally assured by the intermediaries of the agreement, especially Hariri, that the exile condition would apply for only five years, and proceeded to return to Pakistan.

Hours after arriving in Islamabad on September 10, 2007, however, Sharif was deported to Jeddah. He eventually returned to Pakistan again later that year.