The Punjab Government went all out in its way to ensure that Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan would feel welcomed and secure in Lahore. Unfortunately, this required Lahore to come to a complete standstill amidst strict security arrangements that translated into seven hour-long lockdowns of some of the busiest parts of the city. Traffic jams, cancelled appointments and frantic messages from schools to parents to close down schools early were some of the scenes from Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday, Mall Road remained closed for ordinary traffic from 3pm to 10pm, and traffic coming to Lahore from Ravi Road was diverted to the Ring Road.

While the security of foreign visitors must be ensured, what happened in Lahore was testing the patience of the people in the name of security. The PML-N is always indignant when blockades are caused by protests, yet when it comes to its own business, it is more than happy to inconvenience its constituents.

A ceremony was held at Royal Fort Lahore to honour the Turkish President and his delegation members and PM Nawaz Sharif, his wife, chief ministers of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, federal and provincial ministers and senior officials attended the reception. While criticisms abound of Punjab being favoured to host the Turkish President, there was no reason why attendance at the joint session was so thin. Chief Minister KPK, Pervez Khattak was noticeable by absence, and the tired rhetoric of protest was not enough to justify airing our dirty laundry in front of our guest.