Among the PM’s responsibilities
Panama aftermath, opposition up in arms, possible street agitation, etc, will be the least of the prime minister’s problems as he heads back home shortly. There’s uproar, and plenty of it, on the foreign front as well. And since – despite all advice to the contrary – Nawaz has chosen to keep the foreign policy portfolio, he has created some unnecessary heartburn for himself. It’s just as well, considering these problems, that his doctors advised him, apparently, to stay a day or two longer in London.
If Sartaj Aziz could put out some of the fires raging around our borders, he would have done it already. So it is more or less up to Nawaz himself to lay the groundwork for some serious diplomacy ahead. And the SAARC summit must be right at the top of his list of concerns. With Afghanistan and India not even really talking to Pakistan anymore, hosting the summit will come with additional strain this time. The number one concern right now must be to get everybody to attend. But even if they come, there’s only so far the summit will go if we just exchange cold glances and occasional chatter over Kulbhoshan, Pathankot, etc.
Therefore, there’s a fair bit of normalisation to do ahead of the summit, and the PM has only tillAug26 to get it all done. Streamlining things with the two neighbours will drag the Americans and the war on terror into the equation as well, of course. This is probably where Nawaz will regret not appointing a full time foreign minister. That is because he will be no less occupied by the local disturbance and the Panama affair. Unfortunately, even if Nawaz is able to put all the pieces in the right squares, there’s little to expect from SAARC, as usual. But with member states so antagonistic towards each other, its little surprise that initiatives like SAARC could never really fetch anything worth writing home about.