The impending visit of the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Muhammad bin Salman and Muhammad bin Sultan, is welcome, but the presence of the former is a bit of a poser for those responsible for the security of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Crown Prince of UAE has helped the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in his invasion of Yemen, not of his allegedly having ordered the killing of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he might find the PM’s security staff viewing him with the same unemotional consideration that they will look at the Saudi Crown Prince. They have probably been told that Muhammad bin Salman did not personally take part in the killing, chopping up or dissolution in acid of Khashoggi, having merely given the orders, but they would see themselves as failing in their duty if they let him do anything to Imran.

Imran might look on receiving this guest as another risk run in the service of Pakistan. However, Crown Prince Muhammad is something of a first. Foreign Leaders are not supposed to be under suspicion of killing anyone. Nor should foreign missions cause worries when anyone visits them, especially citizens. One hears that the PM’s security staff has forbidden any visits to any Saudi missions. No members of the staff want to get ulcers on top of ulcers. However, one must give full credit to the UAE Crown Prince for having the guts to be his friend. Look, while the allegations against the Crown Prince may not be true, it is true that a lot of members of his entourage have been arrested for the Khashoggi murder. The security staff must be worried about any attempt to involve Imran in the Khashoggi murder.

Imran himself sees the visit as the UAE finally stumping up. It seems the UAE will deposit $3 billion in the State Bank of Pakistan. I wonder how long that money will last? Combined with the oil supplied by Saudi Arabia on deferred payments, that should help keep us out of the clutches of the IMF. That will leave us wondering whether the devaluation of the rupee will continue, or whether there have been enough to convince the Crown Prince.

However, the visit should not distract from another development, one closer to Imran’s heart. Did anyone see Jahangir Tareen’s son Ali buy the new cricket team in the Pakistan Super League, the Multan Sultans. So Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s opening of a South Punjab Secretariat from the next financial year will be preceded by a cricket team that can be supported by the potential new province.

If South Punjab includes Multan and Bahawalpur divisions, it will have its own secessionist movement built in, because Bahawalpur has a hankering for the kind of separate status it had before it was merged into One Unit back in 1953. Punjab will not be free of secessionist pressures, not with Rawalpindi division wanting to become a Potohar province. And after that, there will be another movement for the creation of a Thal province out of Sargodha division.

I’m not sure South Punjab is such a great idea. I mean, we will then lose the distinguished presence of Usman Buzdar. He would become chief minister of the new province, and we might well find ourselves in opposition with Hamza Shehbaz in office. Or if the PTI manages to arrange a majority in what remains of the Punjab, then we might end up with Aleem Khan as CM. Either way, a CM with hair.

Imran probably hopes to avoid such a fate as Donald Trump is facing, after Defense Secretary Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis resigned over withdrawing forces from Syria and reducing them in Afghanistan. Imagine our own Pervez “Twinkletoes” Khattak resigning. For anything. That withdrawal is causing a lot of nerves to be rattled. Afghanistan is not going to ask Pakistan for replacements, but it might ask India. India, already rattled by the Chinese CPEC presence, would jump at the chance. But what if there was a request for replacements in Syria? Well, one excuse would be that the USA was not officially in Syria, but what if we were asked to provide troops on the same terms? Can Imran spare any troops from keeping him in office?

It is the presence of those troops which allowed NAB to file cases against Mian Shehbaz Sharif in the Ashiana Iqbal case. Mian Shehbaz has never been a teacher, but the death of Professor Javed Akram, the director of the University of Sargodha’s Lahore Campus in Nab custody should give him pause. NAB Lahore has a record of arresting professors, giving rise to the suspicion that former students had been recruited. In Professor Javed’s case, it seems the ex-pupil had an insatiable animus, because his handcuffs were not taken off even in death. Were the jailers afraid the corpse would escape?