After the embarrassing treatment meted by the Saudis, is it time for “Go Nawaz Go”?

Published: May 26, 2017

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was received by King Salman upon arrival at Arab-Islamic-American Summit at Riyadh. PHOTO: PID

Pakistan has suffered yet another excruciating defeat on an international platform. With the recent verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pakistan could not have dealt with a more severe blow than the humiliating treatment shown by the Saudis at the Arab-American-Islamic Summit.

Why? Because apparently we have an incompetent, self-serving, corrupt man serving as our prime minister. Though matters have gotten worse after his first two terms, we keep making the same mistake by electing him over and over again.

There was a time when the top office holders of our state received warm welcomes no matter where they went. When Ayub Khan visited Saudi Arabia in 1960, he was welcomed personally by the king of Saudi Arabia himself and the grandiosity of Saudi hospitality paralleled the one enjoyed by Donald Trump on his recent visit.

Whereas Nawaz Sharif, the head of the sole Islamic nuclear power, carried out a walk of shame the moment he stepped off his plane. The only thing missing was Septa Unella from the famous Games of Thrones scene, chanting ‘shame’ alongside Cersie Lannister.

When Nawaz was received by a person of the lowest status from the ranks, the governor of Riyadh, our respect as a nation was diminished to nothing in a single moment. Since he didn’t receive the protocol befitting the head of a strategically important Islamic state, the rest of the trip was bound to end with downright embarrassment, which it did.

Nawaz wasn’t even allowed to make a speech as promised, something he had reportedly prepared for days before arriving. Nawaz was also absent during Trump’s gathering with Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the Saudi king and the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el Sisi (where the famous globe picture was taken). Trollers aptly challenged others to identify Nawaz in the massive crowd gathered around the three heads of states (he was that far behind).

From left, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Melania Trump and President Trump during the opening of an anti-extremist center on Sunday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Photo: Saudi Press Agency

Nawaz’s presence went largely unnoticed, with him spending most of the time in what can only be termed as a forced oblivion right from the very beginning. We as a nation could never have fathomed that one day we would face this kind of disgrace at the hands of a country we termed as our ‘brotherly’ state.

The final nail in the coffin was perhaps the fact that India received a special mention as a victim of terrorism while Pakistan – the actual victim of terrorism and the front line state fighting the war on terror for the past decade, having sacrificed no less than 70,000 of its citizens – was disregarded completely.

A barrage of questions remains unanswered.

Why did Nawaz opt for the visit when this treatment was already anticipated? Most leaders would have saved their country from becoming a laughing stock by cancelling. Was it then, a lapse of judgment on his part? Or he knew the risks but decided to go anyway?

This has happened on previous occasions as well,for instance when he went to China and the US. Besides this, his lack of perception reached new heights when he decided to go to the ICJ as well, despite warnings that the court would be rigged in India’s favour.

Such is the sad state of affairs of our country that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders found a silver lining from this visit – the fact that President Trump warmly shook hands with Nawaz for a brief moment. After Nawaz tossed millions of taxpayers’ money down the drain, we are supposed to find consolation from this absolute disaster of a trip in a routine handshake.

According to their logic, we should celebrate since the sole objective that Nawaz went to achieve in Saudi Arabia has been achieved – a handshake with our undeclared master. From now on, the need for signing agreements, making policy statements, and advancing the state’s interests must end while the premier is on a foreign visit, and instead we should simply rely on a handshake and it’ll be a job well done!

In his own country, Nawaz enjoys a massive protocol comprising hundreds of vehicles, an army of elite police personnel accompanying him for his security instead of doing their real job – securing the public. Moreover, traffic signals are also closed when he passes by a certain road. Before his arrival at an event or even at a hospital, the whole place is banished for the commoners reminiscing the long-gone era of the Mughal kings. Tragically, the same Nawaz who leads a lavish lifestyle at the expense of his poverty ridden people was treated shabbily upon his visit to the kingdom.

Saudis have a certain mentality when it comes to politics. Their respect is reserved solely for the ones that either share a family bond with them or have greater wealth and military power than them. Nawaz certainly isn’t related to them, he doesn’t impress them with his wealth, and as far as the military is concerned, the Saudi’s already got what they wanted – the appointment of the former army chief as the leader of the military alliance.

Nawaz has long served his potential for the Saudis and now holds no worth in their eyes. A deep-rooted reason for the Saudis’ apathy for him also stems from the history they share together. Having lost most of his credibility during his days as a political prisoner in the refuge of the royal Saudi family, the Panamagate scandal robbed Nawaz of whatever little credibility was left.

What did he expect anyway, that a former political prisoner would be treated as an honourable guest in the very country that hosted him as a refugee? Moreover, the presence of a corrupt politician only brought embarrassment to the participants of the Saudi Summit – another major reason behind the whole debacle.

After getting his address axed and sitting in the back of the 55-member conference, Nawaz must have wondered whether Imran Khan was right when he said,

“Beggar nations do not get respected.”

If Nawaz had been smart, this event would have proved to be the last straw. This incident should have forced him to resign so that someone capable could do the job.

However, if Nawaz cares in the least about his voters and the nation in general, the least he can do is apologise because this time, his ineptness has gone too far.

Ahsan Zafeer

Ahsan Zafeer

The author is interested in politics, social issues and sports. He has a passion for writing and believes that issues can be resolved through discussion. He tweets as @AhsanZafeer (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Saad Iqbal⏺

    i personally believe that it is time that pakistan starts generating its own indigenous machinery, industries and also electricity and gas
    all politicians have failed at least to provide cheap electricity and gas.

    if nawaz havent went to Saudia, all people and especially india would be happy and chanting that “Pakistan is isolated”. but respect of a state especially for pakistan will come when pakistan is more stronger economically or maybe atleast industrially, for which the govt needs to be sincere with Pakistan which is difficult
    because top 3 parties have corrupt elementsRecommend

  • raees

    Ahsan Zafeer must understand that a monarch welcomed another monarch due to mutual appreciation. Though I am pro-PPP but I can say confidently that Nawaz Sharif is an elected PM. Arabs will never have favour that they enjoyed in eras of military monarchs in Pakistan. Parliament and cabinet should decide about Pakistan. Democratic governments in Arab countries will review their policies. There is no need to worry.Recommend

  • Sheraz

    You are the man Ahsan! Thoroughly enjoyed it..Now is the time that we drag these rules down from the chair…Mr. Nawaz is a source of big shame for us on world forumsRecommend

  • muhnochva

    Pak is a beggar country, the sooner they accept it the better.Recommend

  • SHAH S

    Saudis realized they were dealing with ‘most corrupt’ thief in the world; They kept this corrupt thief away from themselves and trump; And by the way, he was running around in the backdrop with Qatari ruler; By the way, at the center were King Salman (KSA) and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed (UAE); and both these countries do not like Qatar Rulers and are very much against their demeanor and policies; And Lo & Behold, Our Corrupt Thief was stuck like a fly with this Qatar Ruler; NO BRAINS AT ALL; What else can we say about this ???Recommend

  • Petrolhead

    A very good write-up. Honest and thus sad.

    Expecting Nawaz to show a little bit of grace (if any left) and go on his own is useless. He can only be thrown out otherwise we can’t get rid of him and his offspring.Recommend

  • Usman Khan

    GO NAWAZ GO!!!Recommend

  • S Hashmi

    Finally a non biased point of view. Kudos Zafeer sahib! Hope to expect more from you.Recommend

  • Marghoob Ahmed Siddiqui

    He has gone there just to shake hand with his master Trump and Saudis consider him to be one of their slaves with whom they can do what they like. A great humiliation to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Whereas Nawaz Sharif, the head of the sole Islamic nuclear power, carried out a walk of shame the moment he stepped off his plane.

    mr Nawaz sharif is not the head of state per se, therefore is not entitled to the treatment reserved for the head of States such as Al Sissi. This is the international protocal- Besides he was invited as an associate of the Saudi monarch who has elevated himself to the head of Sunni muslim majority countries.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Muhammad

    This article only reflects the preconceived biases of the writer and would not pass muster to the standards of decent journalism. DisappointingRecommend

  • Sana Bhittani

    WOW What an article 110/100.Recommend

  • Ijaz khan

    Nawaz and zardari are two highly corrupted incapable shameless people that have no respect for their own selves even they been exposed numerous times for mega corruptions even by their own party members that may be neglected with their due share,

    these two never give progress to the country but only to their families and their party members to remain loyal dogs and shut their mouths. they are living like kings with all the luxurious with their families abroad in their VILLAS in london, dubai, usa, switzerland and other western countries and just come to rule here and keep on plundering the country all kind of resources and sending it abroad on various illegal methods and here the country majority poor people can not find enough food to feed their families and some unfortunately take extreme step commit suicide and some even kill their whole family because of desperation and extreme poverty.

    no one knows when this menace will end in this country and they are brought to justice and all their looted wealth are brought back to the country and eradicate the extreme poverty from the country with real sincere people running it.Recommend

  • HZRR

    This was a gathering of Arab nations and the PM at best can only be a honorary arab..not the genuine varietyRecommend

  • ioer

    Pakistan is an insignificant country. The last time Pakistan made it to world new was when Osama was caught, or when Malala was shot.Recommend

  • Milind A

    This writeup is laden with bias. Its your army/establishment that causes the mess, with limited room for maneuvering for PM, Foreign Office or any other civilian body (Irfan Hussain wrote about this years back in DAWN). And you make a scapegoat of your hapless PM.. To his credit, he’s atleast pragmatic ready to resolve political issues through diplomacy, trade, talks rather than war-mongering… As far as the Saudis are concerned they’re already sold out to US , so let’s not put them on a high pedestal.Recommend

  • Sane

    beggars are not choosers.Recommend

  • Rohan

    70000 is a fake number , not that many died Recommend

  • Zohair Husain

    This isn’t a fake number during the last 16 years thousands have lost their lives in suicide and terror attacks throughout PakistanRecommend

  • Rohan

    Joke, nobody believes you, you play victim to get aidRecommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    I am sure the supporters of Nawaz Shreef will continue to vote him…such a shame and disgrace for the countryRecommend

  • guest

    Come to think of it, does this pm ever give a thought/care for poverty ridden people of Pakistan ……seems like his motto from day one entering into politics was money and power The so called taraqqi/jhamhooriyat/his mandate is very very self explanatory, the way he has messed up Pakistan domestically and internationally. Nawaz Shareef is a big failure…….his mega corruptions, his policies and bad governance speaks the truth about his greed and selfish nature!!!Recommend

  • SHAH S

    Honorary Arab ???? NORecommend

  • ABKhan

    Pakistan has not built the world’s largest “jhonper patti” near airport to beg the foreigners. You need to go to toilet ohhh I am sorry, you guys dont have themRecommend

  • Simple Truth

    SAD that the level of English language comprehension is so LOW among Pakistanis that they perceive Go Nawaz Go as a negative, and take solace in that!!! Little these half-literate know that in every other country of the world, when you so Go….someone, or a team …Go, you are actually cheering them up. Pity the PoTIan clan!Recommend

  • Simple Truth

    100% biased article; shows zero intellect and insight, but lots of noise! Instead of acting grumpy, the writer needs to get a dose of reality, and tweak his expectations. We are not a super power, and we are not an Arab country — apart from everything else, Arabs are deeply prejudiced clans; and always demonstrate that by being ever-ready to lick the boots of Americans (their true masters) , but treat others (esp. Pakistanis) with very little respect!Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    The author is talking of the treatment he expects out of USA, China and KSA, each one of them are powers in their own right without realizing the importance – that he believes Pakistan has but has been undermined due to Nawaz Sharif

    Friends of Pakistan, Kerry Luger Bill and the billion dollar Saudi assistance is not all Sharif’s doing.

    Remember the words “You don’t have to take it”?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    WOW..Pakistani knowledge of maths is unique indeed.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Sanity has finally prevailedRecommend

  • M.Haroon Iqbal Khan Alizai

    Potian spotted Recommend

  • Razzy

    Saudis are more aligned with Israel when it comes to important matters and you know who runs the US. So this shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Saudi rulers are actually hypocrites to the core and this is something the west in general and the US in particular relishes. US policy in the region and beyond is pretty much full of hypocrisy. For the US, terrorists are “bad terrorists” only if they target US interests. Otherwise they are “good terrorists” if their interest aligns with that of the US. This is also true of drug cartels as we’ve seen in South America. Similar to pakistan’s policy but with a much wider scope.

    Remember the sponsorship of Afghan mujahideen? Remember CIA backing pinochet/noriega etc in South America and Saddam in Iraq during his hey day? Remember the US is arming and training “moderate rebels” in Syria.

    Secondly Saudis and the rest of the oil rich gulf cabal are no threat to the ethnostate of Israel whereas pakistan is a small threat. Plus Israel does not want Assad to stay and would rather prefer ISIS there as per their defence minister:

    They even help al qeda in their hospitals:

    So Pakistan (and other small Muslim countries) are only good for hosting the ideology emanating from Riyadh. That is what they are good for. To build mosques funded by the Saudi royalty to propagate their ideology and as foot soldiers for their “projects” in the region and beyond (cannon fodder if you will)

    It is good that the true face of Saudi Arabia is been seen by more and more Muslims across the globe. Hope Pakistan also sees it (and identifies it’s lackeys in the country like Nawaz)Recommend

  • Rohan

    We have more than you ever willRecommend

  • Rohan

    Back to madrassa dude which doesn’t have anyRecommend

  • Thinker_94

    Sharif just took an additional 8 billion dollar loan. wake up dude before its too late!Recommend

  • ABKhan

    Haha. You cant even construct a sentence due to constipation. Dont worry all roads of India are open playgrounds for you open defection playersRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    And ignores the reality that for people from Pakistan it is an Umra to visit the Saudi land. The Sharifs are no exceptions, for them it is a blessing to be out of Pakistan simply to obtain more oxygen.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rohan

    Doesn’t help when your paper cuts my sentences , you have nukes and your literacy rate declined,enjoy your ttpRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    People reckon it is safe in Sharifs panama accout and will eventualy be returned to the treasury. How else a Prime Minister will be allowed to maintain the Paanama account?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • ABKhan

    You are trying to send something on moon and couldn’t have a toilet to use. Enjoy your tripRecommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    hahahahah…then those people may be living in a mental hospital, in countries like this where there is no accountability, this is exactly what happens..Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    The topic is this particular incident, if that was the situation as u said, simply making a decision of not going would have sufficed, but nawaz showed no leadership quality and went anyway like an obedient slave, that’s what the issue is..Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    Ok PatwariRecommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    The only matter that has been discussed in the article is the premier’s decision to go, he’s been in politics for three decades now and knows arabs better than anyone, then why did he go?? He always does things like these damaging the country..Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    Wake up before its too late for this country..Its not a preconceived bias to criticize the PM over a bad decision he took deliberately..Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    India is a genocidal terrorist country, killing Kashmiri’s sooner they accept it the better..Recommend

  • Rohan

    We have already sent to mars ,you are just sending jehadis to Kashmir ,world of difference Recommend

  • rationalist

    “Why did Nawaz opt for the visit when this treatment was already anticipated?”

    Moral: Beggars in street corners anticipate and are used to “this” treatment. But, that doesn’t stop them from begging.

    On a serious note, why heap all the blame on poor Nawaz Sharif only? The Saudis didn’t think Pakistan (not just Nawaz) worthy of reverence and respect. Who will, when you are perceived as a global terror epicenter with perpetual begging bowl?Recommend

  • LS

    I would agree with you but at the same time would also say that context matters. Pakistan isn’t US and they don’t use “Go… Someone… Go” to cheer them. The want him to GO (OUT of the Office) Nawaz GO (out of the office).. thing.Recommend

  • LS

    I think you should worry about your own 50% of population who defecate in open in your OWN country or those who don’t have enough to eat which makes your country rank in #11 on Hunger report. According to your own DAWN you actual poverty rate is more than 60% and you only provide “Pauperism” data to UN. India Constructed more than 2 crore toilets and you haven’t even begun yet. I guess before some needs to go they need to eat first?Recommend

  • LS

    What does he mean by Potian?Recommend

  • LS

    …but then not going would have jeopardized the occasional grants/loans etc that he gets to balance his budget?Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    Your comment stinks of Indian Hindutava radicalism focused on Pakistan. Had there been someone better in place of Nawaz sharif, like musharraf or another courageous better leader, he wouldn’t get treated that way for sure…nawaz sharif is nothing more than a coward, pakistan deserves better!Recommend

  • ABKhan

    I think you should be more concerned about your country where rape has become national sport and you are known as rape capital of the world. About two corore toilets, its peanuts for a country where people have nothing except increasing population Recommend

  • ABKhan

    But couldnt send your population to toilet. HahaRecommend

  • Rohan

    Atleast we are not born as jehadisRecommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    A slang used by the N league Patwari’s to denote supporters of PTI..Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    there are none, any grants however given are conditional and saudia buys favors through them, Pak doesn’t get them for

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    Just like Uri attack, 93 mumbai bombings, parliament attack, mumbai hotel attack and pretty much everything that has happened in india happens to be fake..Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    u kill them, blind them, rape them..when they fight back they are terrorists? P.S they are doing it on their own, they are freedom fighters if the jihadis were sent and supported by pakistan u people would be wetting ur pants and modi would be bent on his kneesRecommend

  • LS

    Please stop copying what I said. It was you who is overly concerned about us. pakiland which jails the women for reporting rape and demands 4 witnesses. I am sure there would lots and lots coming forward to report the crime. Point is we did something and you haven’t begun yet.. Coming to population your growth rate is MUCH higher than ours. Your population grew more than 7-9 times in last 7 years which is twice as fast as ours. Recommend

  • ABKhan

    It wasnt me who was trolling on some other country’s website and talking about them. In your country women gets burnt alive for reporting rape. Even international media is so disturbed by Indian attitude towards women that they wrote the column “rape festival of assam”. Plz stop defeating on roadsRecommend

  • Rohan

    Peshawar ,Lahore,attacks in Quetta ,Karachi and lahore killings are all fake conspiracies designed to get aid .BeggarsRecommend

  • Rohan

    We have demolished the 2 nation theory in 71 and split Pakistan and we can do it balochistan,so don’t talk about pant wetting when you have lost all wars.Recommend

  • LS

    There is a reason why your country is at the bottom of the Gender gap index.

    The article you refer to has been declared as hoax long ago… That website “National Report” only publishes fake news… Look at the above index.. for reality.. WEF is a legit organization. Not a publisher of fake stories.Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    yeah try that, we will go for khalistaan then, u do know the state of sikhs and how they want independence from your oppressive hindutava terrorists and btw indian isn’t really a nation, its simply a space that houses more than 100 nationalities, all of whom need to be a separate country just like pakistan, so two nation theory will always be alive especially when u keep butchering innocent minorities like muslims, naga’s and sikhs, kashmiri’sRecommend

  • ABKhan

    Instead of reading reports about others you better concentrate on your own where once a woman has been gang raped in an auto and then forced to travel on metro with her baby. Man of your country are worse than animalsRecommend

  • sterry

    Why should anyone in Pakistan care what the Saudis say or do when the world doesn’t care about what the Saudis say or do? Wake up and see that only Pakistanis and 3 rd world people think that Saudi has any world influence. Take a good look at Melania or former first lady Michelle Obama or Angela Merkel when they walk about and ignore Saudi dictates and laws. The world doesn’t give two hoots about what Saudi Arabia thinks and it can try to be a bully with little Qatar. Pakistan has to do what is best for itself as a nation. Nawaz Sharif may not be the greatest statesman but he is getting the country’s economy on a better footing and trust me, Pakistan is more respected in the world as a democratic Islamic state and developing economy than any other Muslim state at the moment. Don’t over analyse a foreign junket to Saudi Arabia to vent your personal hatred at Nawaz Sharif. Why not look at the economy and what independent financial analysts have said about the nation. Just ask yourself why Pakistan’s standing has improved in all economic surveys done by Western media financial houses. I don’t care about what some Arab King allows or doesn’t allow from our PM. He would bow to Melania to have her speak, head uncovered while he oppresses his own Saudi women! Why should you care what he thinks?Recommend

  • sterry

    I also say Go Nawaz Go but I laugh and say keep going and keep doing good because you have made our economy stronger. Pakistanis may not understand English and the meaning of GO which is why I just keep laughing!Recommend