If one wants an ordinary visit to spark intense speculation and rumour-mongering, picking the most inopportune time to orchestrate it is the safest bet to let the conspiracy buffs have a field day. Sajjan Jindal’s visit would not have drawn any attention had the Prime Minister picked a more suitable opportunity to meet his friend from India. There is nothing wrong with keeping friendships with individuals from across the border – it should in fact, be encouraged – but the current climate of hostility, tensions along the border, the Indian state’s repressive tactics in Kashmir, and the ongoing spy games all indicate that the Premier at least, should steer well-clear of anything that attaches him too closely to the Indian government.

Jindal’s known association to PM Modi and closeness to PM Nawaz is a major reason for sending the rumour-mill into overdrive as a result of this visit – conducting this meeting in secrecy is bound to make the public jump to conclusions.

It is unclear whether any back-channel diplomacy was on the schedule in this visit, but that is ultimately irrelevant if unofficial talks can lead to a drawdown in hostilities between the two countries, provided Pakistan’s stance is represented adequately. However, this ceases to become the issue when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) handling of the entire affair is at best careless, and at worst, depicting the party’s complete disregard for rules and procedures.

By denying the meeting altogether initially, then accepting that it took place, the PML-N left itself open for attack from the opposition when it really did not need to. Add that to the fact that Mr Jindal’s visa did not even cover Murree – where the two friends reportedly met for lunch – we have a government that seems committed to undo its own work. With Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s announcement of foreigners now needing a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to travel to Gilgit-Baltistan coming at roughly the same time as this violation of rules, the government is being too cavalier about rules it has publicly committed to protect.

Opposition parties are now gearing themselves up to take this issue to the provincial and National Assembly, and their politicians are bound to be excited about the prospect of taking the government to task. While cases such as Panama leaks are borne out of factors far beyond the ruling party’s control, there are occasions where there is no need for the party to embroil itself in needless controversy, but continues to do so regardless, all but ensuring that Nawaz Sharif’s time at the helm of affairs keeps shifting from one controversy to another.

As far as the Premier and his party’s reputation is concerned, there are already those that see the Panama judgement as one that went against him – PM Sharif does not need more controversy surrounding him. But as has been clear many times before, PML-N remains its own worst enemy and keeps putting itself in uncomfortable spots unnecessarily.