Nawaz Sharif is weakening institutions
Mian Nawaz Sharif’s style of running the affairs of the state in a personalised and informal manner continues to give birth to speculations. When Sharif visited New Delhi to attend Modi’s swearing in ceremony, one of his sons accompanied him who was later reported to have been taken out to lunch by Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal. Later the same Indian journalist reported that Jindal had also arranged a secret meeting between Sharif and Modi in his hotel suite in Kathmandu. Jindal was again sighted at Sharif’s residence when he met Modi last week.
Modi was accompanied by the Indian Security Advisor when he came to meet Sharif. Sharif’s team, on the other hand, comprised his sons and Shahbaz Sharif. Few would buy the excuse that Sartaj Aziz or Pakistan’s National Security Advisor could not attend the meeting because they were in Islamabad. When Sharif met Saudi King Abdullah along with Ishaq Dar in August 2013, one of Sharif’s sons accompanied them. The stories have led political opponents to claim that private business interests are being put ahead of national interest. A report in a local newspaper tells of Modi carrying a stern message from President Putin to Sharif. This seems improbable. But when meetings with foreign dignitaries are conducted in the absence of officials who are supposed to be there, reports of the type are likely to gain credence.
The personalised style of conducting foreign relations weakens the institutions. The Foreign Secretary had shown surprise over Pakistan’s name having been included in the list of countries joining the Saudi-led military alliance. Subsequently Sartaj Aziz confirmed Pakistan’s participation in the alliance. Obviously, FO was not taken on board while making the controversial decision. Later, Aziz admitted on the floor of the Senate that Pakistan was still unaware of full details of the alliance. And still it joined it! And now Sartaj Aziz is required to report to the Senate on Modi’s talks with Sharif where he had not been invited.