By the time this week’s column is printed, our Prime Minister would have returned from his visit to India. The PML-N media will label the trip a huge, ground breaking success, while the other side, will in all probability, term the whole exercise nonproductive. While both viewpoints are radical in nature, the fact of the matter is that the Indians have once again played their hand with characteristic dexterity.

The invitation for our PM to attend the swearing in ceremony was not from the Indian PM elect to his Pakistani counterpart as an equal, but was extended through the SAARC Forum with undertones of the forum’s leader asking his (smaller) members to attend the event. It may be noted here that Pakistan was a founding member of SAARC and had a major role in creating the organization. Nonetheless, it was well (and in keeping with diplomatic norms), that our Head of the Executive did attend the proceedings.

The subsequent meeting between the two Heads of Governments in Hyderabad House and the five points raised by Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s counterpart were enough to prove the hardline nature of the Indian Government. This stance and the new Indian PM’s approach towards Indian Muslims (demonstrated so vividly during the Gujrat Massacre) coupled with his reputation of a low tolerance threshold, are some of the angles that will test the foresight and professional wisdom of the Nawaz Sharif Government in any future scenario.

As if external developments were not enough, the domestic political pot continued to be stirred by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Awami Tehreek and some religious parties. It would usually be in such pressure cooker situations that the elder brother in Islamabad often turned to his more astute younger sibling in Lahore. Some political analysts are already attributing the meetings between the Army Chief and the Punjab Chief Minister as part of this process.

The swearing in ceremony in New Delhi should have been an eye opener for the Pakistani leadership. The event’s ambience and austerity may well have been part of how our Eastern neighbor portrays itself image wise or it may even have been a genuine reflection of Indian pragmatism, but it was effective. It would be well if our PM returns home with the understanding that ceremonies such as these actually multiply impact through simplicity, austerity and frugality.

Rosy cheeks, florid complexions and prosperous girths mock me whenever I switch on the ‘idiot box’ in our home. These are the images that belong to the ‘ruling family’ of Pakistan and their cronies – leaders of a country beset with economic crises, poverty, hunger and want, failing utility services, terror and rampant crime. These are the people who sing praises of the ‘Orange Line’ in Lahore and the arrival of the Metro Bus in the Twin Cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. These individuals appear sublimely oblivious of reality; what people need is zero load shedding, uninterrupted gas in their homes, a check on spiraling prices and good law and order – not Orange Trains and Red Buses plying on Metropolitan routes.

And finally, something about the PTI ‘show of force’ in Faisalabad - it was a day after the mammoth event that I met a friend from this great city who told me how anti-PTI elements had tried to wean the public away from the ‘jalsa’. If my friend’s version is true, then there can be no doubt as to the ‘imbecility’ of those tasked to undermine Khan Sahib’s ‘tsunami’ using the gimmick of free entry into the Lucky Irani Circus and a Concert featuring a pop idol, within the same city and at the same time as the public meeting.

The writer is a freelance columnist.