More Than Meets The Eye

Author: Daily Times

Stretching back several decades, the bond between Beijing and Islamabad is both old and strong.

The same goes for the equation with the Sharif family, which forms the face of the coalition government. Between celebrating the “speed” of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif as Punjab’s chief minister and metaphorically calling Pakistan the “home of my own brother” ahead of a visit during his party’s last tenure, the Chinese leadership has always appeared willing to consider strategic partnerships under PML(N)’s watch.

Ergo, all attempts to play down the ongoing trip of supremo Nawaz Sharif as personal or low-profile by both the government and his party have done little to contain the curiosity. For every media claim regarding this being a medical visit, another dozen or so speculations abound about some “special assignment.” That Mr Sharif has never visited China for personal reasons sits at the centre of the frenzy while the sight of Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar and the son of Punjab’s Chief Minister Junaid Safadar make it all the more difficult for party spokespersons to play a dead bat.

If those having a finger on the pulse are to be believed, the former premier has stepped back into the limelight to ensure collaborations in the province of Punjab. Paternal inclinations aside, Pakistan needs all the help it can get to steer out of its abyss and if Mr Sharif can use his repertoire to push the Chinese leadership into our corner, nothing like it.

Through trade agreements and economic partnerships, the country can benefit from increased commerce and a greater chance to tread the path to prosperity. Of course, executive or not, as someone with the ear of those at the helm of the affairs, PML(N) could have created goodwill through a detailed, transparent briefing of his visit.

There’s also the question of rumour mills going into overdrive when it comes to the scope of these meetings. Many a political pundit believe that the sweeteners of any collaboration brought out by the efforts of Senior Sharif would be restricted to Punjab alone. The devil would henceforth lie in the details. *

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