IT is most unusual for the Sharif clan to have collectively disappeared from the picture right before the PDM government readies itself to announce arguably its most consequential decision to date. With one brother, the prime minister, incapacitated due to a bout of Covid-19, the other has quietly set off on a 10-day leisure trip to Europe with his sons, daughter and grandchildren in tow. Just why the entire family thought it wise to pull a disappearing act in the midst of roiling political instability and economic uncertainty back home is anybody’s guess. It surely makes for poor optics. Should the elder Sharif — who appears to have leveraged his familial standing to prevail over a decision that was otherwise for the country’s prime minister to make — have absented himself right when that decision was being put into play? To proceed on a family vacation at such a crucial time smacks of disregard for the country’s affairs — the same country that he is seen to control through proxy.
The former prime minister appears to have made use of a diplomatic passport recently issued to him by the interior ministry to make his trip. This in itself is quite unbecoming, considering that the PML-N had spent years insisting that Mr Sharif was unable to travel due to his poor health. Yet, it seems that the first priority for him upon being given the enhanced travelling privileges that come with a diplomatic passport was a rambling leisure trip. One also wonders if Maryam Nawaz and her father paid a thought to how the people back home would feel about their European tour. After all, the country is buckling under unprecedented inflation, has been devastated by monsoon floods and is facing a cold, desperate winter without gas to warm homes or cook food. Was this really the time for any aspiring leader to be reminding the people that their considerable wealth insulates them from the daily miseries of the common folk?
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2022