Pakistan’s mainstream major political party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), leader and ousted Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s recent meeting with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib in London has evoked a political storm back home.
The uproar started after the Afghan NSC tweeted a picture of the meeting with Nawaz Sharif in London.
“NSC Afghanistan @NSCAfghan NSA @hmohiband State Minister for Peace Sayed Sadat Naderi called on Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London to discuss matters of mutual interest,” the tweet read.
The Afghan NSA tweet sparked an angry response from various senior officials of the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s dispensation as they criticised Nawaz Sharif for meeting the Afghan NSA, who has been hostile towards Pakistan and has been giving statements that have prompted Islamabad to cut off all contacts, over what it called “unacceptable and controversial remarks”.
In May, Pakistan cut off all communication with the Afghan NSA after he compared Pakistan with a brothel.
As per details, the meeting in London was held after the Afghan NSA requested to meet Nawaz Sharif on the directions of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, with an aim to discuss the changing regional situation and the ongoing tense situation in Afghanistan.
Former Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the controversial remarks by the NSA were made after the request of meeting with Nawaz Sharif by the Ashraf Ghani government was accepted.
“The choice was between cancelling and going ahead with it. We decided to do the latter and meet them in the national interest, because we wanted to do damage control on the government’s failed foreign policy,” he said.
“Obviously we spoke in Pakistan’s interest. We do not want Pakistan to go into isolation as a result of foreign policy failures. We do not want to give a message to the international community that we are operating as a hegemony. Why should we not do damage control in Pakistan’s interest?” he asked.
In Pakistan, serious criticism was witnessed on Sharif’s meeting with Afghan NSA. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry called the Afghan NSA “RAW’s biggest ally in Afghanistan”.
“Be it Modi, Mohib or Amrullah Saleh, every enemy of Pakistan is a close friend of Nawaz Sharif,” he said.
The pouring criticism on social media was responded to by Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif who said that “it was the very essence of diplomacy to talk to everyone, listen to their point of view and convey one’s own message across; something this government doesn’t comprehend and hence is a complete failure on the international front”.
“Pakistan’s peaceful existence with its neighbours is the very foundation of Nawaz Sharif’s ideology for which he has worked tirelessly,” she tweeted.
Analysts say that the meeting of Nawaz Sharif with the Afghan NSA may have brought discomfort to the Pakistani leadership, but it certainly has established that the main opposition party, PML-N, is still run by Nawaz Sharif, who as per senior leadership of the party, has put Pakistan’s strong reaction to the Afghan NSA and has acted as a national leader, even at a time when he is sitting in London and is wanted over corruption charges in Pakistan.
Pakistan and Afghanistan relations are in a sensitive phase, especially after Taliban have started taking control over major areas of Afghanistan and have started to impose their version of rule.