PM Nawaz Sharif leaves for Maldives today –to attend its 52nd independence day celebrations

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left for Maldives on Tuesday to participate in the country’s 52nd independence day celebrations on July 26 as the chief guest of the event.

The prime minister, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, is visiting Maldives on the invitation of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

During the three-day-long visit to the tropical nation of roughly 400,000 inhabitants in the Indian ocean (composed of 26 ring-shaped atolls made up of more than 1,000 coral islands), Sharif is expected to sign a number of agreements for cooperation in various fields following a meeting with the Maldives president.

The premier’s visit comes at a time when the country is waiting on the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panamagate case, pertaining to the Sharif family’s assets and businesses.

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The move is seen as a push to assert that the beleaguered Pakistani prime minister is still in control of the government and calls the shots in all key affairs, including the crucial foreign policy matters, report The Express Tribune.

Citing sources in the PM House, the paper said PM Sharif initially decided to postpone the scheduled visit to the Maldives because of political challenges at home. However, after consultations with his close aides as well as Foreign Office officials, he decided to go ahead with the visit.

“This serves two motives,” commented a government official, requesting anonymity.

“Back home, going ahead with such a visit in the face of crisis is aimed at conveying a message across that he is still in business. And on the diplomatic front, this move is directed to convey to the foreign powers that Pakistan’s PM, who may have been dented politically, is still relevant.”

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