Flip-flops over Nawaz's China trip raise eyebrows

PML-N leaders give contradictory statements after denial

RAMEEZ KHAN April 24, 2024
A helicopter transported Nawaz Sharif to the historic Shahi Fort. PHOTO: EXPRESS


PML-N founder Nawaz Sharif's sudden trip to China, just before the Iranian president arrives in Pakistan, has thrown his own party for a loop, leaving them in a quandary, with contradictory reasons being given for the visit.

Nawaz, hailed by his party as a seasoned hand capable of solving Pakistan's myriad problems, embarked on what is said to be a five-day trip to China, just a day before the scheduled arrival of the Iranian president in Lahore.

Although the two trips do not appear to conflict, considering Pakistan's political landscape, a meeting between the Iranian president and the former prime minister would not have been deemed unusual.
Nevertheless, the lingering question persists: What was Nawaz Sharif doing in China? At first, the federal minister for information rebuffed reports of the journey, but later, the party attributed it to a scheduled meeting and a medical examination.

PML-N leader Muhammad Mehdi echoed the same explanations, emphasising that any gatherings in China would be at Nawaz Sharif's discretion.

Oddly, Punjab Information Minister Azma Bukhari dismissed both the medical checkup and meeting explanations, asserting that Nawaz Sharif had travelled to China to attend an exhibition.

She explained that the former PM has a penchant for exhibitions and questioned why he shouldn't attend one now that he has spare time. Bukhari expressed bewilderment at the media's speculation regarding his private trip, particularly given his lack of official responsibilities.

When questioned about Nawaz Sharif's absence for a potential meeting with the Iranian president, Azma Bukhari attributed it to the latter not scheduling a meeting with him. She further stated that Nawaz Sharif was not at everyone's beck and call; any desire for a meeting would have to be conveyed through intermediaries.

Concerning the abrupt change in secretary information and DG DGPR on the day of such a crucial trip, Azma Bukhari clarified that every government possesses the prerogative to appoint officers based on merit.

She clarified that the decision was made a day prior and was only officially announced on Tuesday.


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