Name? Shehbaz Sharif
Westphalian identity? Pakistani
Why is he in the news? Prime Minister Sharif has had a hectic first six months in office as Pakistan has faced tremendous flooding resulting in loss of life and livelihoods. This coupled with Pakistan’s Taliban neighbours and internal political crisis surrounding former prime minister Imran Khan, Sharif has hardly stayed out of the news since taking office.
Why do we care? As he questions his country’s relationship with the U.S., the Prime Minister will likely scope out potential allies to 1) prove he doesn’t need the U.S. and 2) secure other options should the Pakistani-American relationship continue to falter in the midst of the ongoing flooding. As such, Sharif’s government is considering buying discounted Russian oil—good for Russia, not so much for Biden…
Why should you care? The calamitous floods that have overtaken Pakistan have uprooted 33 million people, causing extensive damage to the country’s economic and human development. While these specific floods may not impact you directly, others might some day as climate change intensifies natural disasters around the world. You should care 5/10.
Who else cares? Indian Prime Minister Modi cares deeply about the ongoing crises for Sharif as they allow his government to continue to develop dams in the Indian-administered Kashmir. Despite the ongoing flooding in Pakistan, the country is actually designated as “extremely high water risk” as 80% of Pakistanis face severe water scarcity for at least a month each year. Modi (and Sharif) care about this for the same reason: Pakistan receives 78% of India’s water inflows. That’s a lot of potential hydropower for Modi and a lot of potential potable water for Sharif.
Any further comments? In addition to domestic and regional distress, Sharif has recently dealt with hardship on the international front as President Biden expressed concern over Pakistan’s ability to control its nuclear arsenal as “one of the most dangerous nations in the world.”