OLD habits really do die hard, it seems. Three-term prime minister Nawaz Sharif has done this before, twice actually: treating parliament like a coronation ceremony that once over, he has little interest in or time for. But Mr Sharif’s habitual disdain for parliamentary traditions, like the prime minister perhaps spending some time in parliament, has a twist this time: the prime minister appears to have traded his parliamentary duties with an itinerant’s zest for wandering the globe. Where the prime minister is in any given week is rapidly becoming the parlour game du jour: forget Raiwind, Islamabad or Murree, can anyone even be sure if Mr Sharif is in Pakistan most weeks?
Of course, few places are as likely to be the choice of refuge for a Pakistani abroad as London. The unofficial summer capital of Pakistan is making a comeback of sorts after the Zardari-era Dubai has fallen out of favour. Mr Sharif is certainly more comfortable in and familiar with London than most: his family famously takes up residence in a fabulously rich neighbourhood when in town, and after several grim years in Saudi exile, he escaped to London and stayed there much of the time until his return to Pakistan in 2007. In fact, so comfortable may Mr Sharif have become in London that he might have forgotten he is the prime minister of Pakistan. For what else can explain the prime minister informing British officials that his government has initiated talks with the TTP before telling the Pakistani people and his fellow parliamentarians about something they all must certainly be anxious to know more about? Perhaps an urgent letter on behalf of the people who elected him needs to be sent to the prime minister abroad: come back, Mr Prime Minister, your country needs you, the letter could read.