Nawaz Sharif in the wrong place at the wrong time
A couple of days before the Republic of Maldives was to celebrate its 52nd Independence Day security forces padlocked the gates of the Parliament on the orders of President Yameen Abdul Ghayoom to bar the opposition legislators’ entry. There were clashes between the police and the lawmakers who wanted to hold the Parliament’s sitting to impeach the Speaker and reduce the President’s powers. An injured legislator had to be taken to hospital. The country’s exiled main opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed called the eviction illegal. Strong arm tactics by the President have led the opposition to accuse him of rolling back the country’s democratic gains. With elections scheduled for next year, two opposition parties have joined hands. President Yameen’s party has already lost in local council elections earlier this year.
With Maldives gripped by political tension, Nawaz Sharif has landed in Male as a chief guest on the Independence Day. One can understand that the visit must have been planned months ahead of the function as is the general practice. Maldives being a member of SAARC, OIC and Islamic Military Alliance holds importance for Pakistan. Despite his autocratic tendencies Yameen heads an elected government which still enjoys international legitimacy. In any case, it is up to the people of Maldives to decide who is to rule them.
But all this would not take away the embarrassment that awaits Nawaz Sharif in a divided Male. Yameen Abdul Ghayoom would no doubt present the visit by Pakistan’s Prime Minister as an endorsement of his repressive regime. He has already justified the closure of the Parliament House as part of security measures in view of the VVIP visit. With Maldives badly polarised the opposition is likely to boycott the function and may even criticise Sharif for allowing himself to be used by a president who is bent upon amassing all power and extending his stay through illegitimate means. But couldn’t an embattled Yameen contrarily give birth to a feeling of empathy in Nawaz Sharif?
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