With his departure for the United Nations General Assembly meeting, the Prime Minster leaves the country at a time when floods, IDPs and a political crisis remain challenges he has not confronted head-on. Despite the degree of scrutiny the government is under, the PM has taken an entourage of over 17 people with him, with the trip costing as much as $400,000 while protesters on Constitution Avenue raise questions of accountability and corruption.

Pakistan’s latest troubles have been much publicised both inside and outside the country, and one wonders whether other world leaders will really listen to what the Prime Minster has to say when his hold over the country is this tenuous. His speech on the 26th will address nothing new; regional cooperation and the Kashmiri issue are likely to be two points he will take up. But with both Narendra Modi and Hasina Wajid (among others) scheduled to speak after him, it is fairly certain that Pakistan’s inability to fight polio will be a source of embarrassment for Nawaz Sharif.

Furthermore, India will ask questions about LoC violations and cross-border terrorism, which while not solely Pakistan’s fault, will put the Prime Minister in a tight spot considering he is still looking to placate the Indian government in the hope of improving ties. In his outgoing address as President, Hamid Karzai has blamed Pakistan for cross-border violations and digging unauthorized trenches along the border. Ashraf Ghani’s victory means the Afghan government might change its stance in the future, but the Afghani delegation is likely to stick to its policy of distrust towards Pakistan. It will be interesting to see how Nawaz Sharif handles this two-pronged attack of border violations from both the east and the west.

The mention of the Kashmir issue is but a token gesture, and not too much should be expected from Sharif’s speech in general. But meetings with other world leaders on the sidelines are always an important time to discuss mutual issues, and no meetings scheduled with either the Indian or the Afghani delegations only tells us that Mr. Sharif’s plan of regional cooperation is not really on the agenda. The Prime Minister will also be attending a peace-keeping conference consisting of countries that donate the largest number of troops to UN forces, but with Prime Minister Modi missing this event, Nawaz Sharif’s attendance will only be ceremonial. The meeting with the Denmark and Norway Premiers to discuss energy issues is the only thing of substance in this visit then, but any expectations for results should be kept at a realistic minimum.