Nawaz Sharif isn’t much of an orator. He rarely gives one-on-one interviews, and when he does, he has usually got an aide or two hanging around, whispering the appropriate response in his ear for a tough one, even handing him a scribbled note to read out.
The Man of Steel, as the industrial magnate has been baptised for his political prowess and foundry background, isn’t much of a number-cruncher either, and Punjabi jokes come more easily to him than statistics: all very unbecoming traits for the premier of a raucous land.
But before he holed himself up in Islamabad’s lush Prime Minister House last week, digging in to defend his family from the increasingly inquisitive Panama Papers probe, Sharif was most confident, even cavalier about one subject: the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The ‘threat’, of course, is India, and other common friends, or now estranged partners, like the US and Iran. “Both Pakistan and China have a shared interest in leveraging the commons, and specifically the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for military and economic purposes and so would be interested in balancing US dominance and Indian strengths in the IOR,” says Sameer Lalwani of the Stimson Center, from Washington.
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