02 August, 2021

Q: What's Your Nationality? A: Of Course, I'm Pakistani

Pakistan's PM-in-waiting has perfected the art of the politician—of talking on all subjects without revealing anything.

Q: What's Your Nationality? A: Of Course, I'm Pakistani
Pakistan's prime minister-in-waiting, Shaukat Aziz, isn't officious, nor does he believe in keeping anyone waiting. As soon as he reaches office, Aziz is told about the scheduled interview with Outlook. He promptly walks into the aide's room and accompanies me to his office. On the walls are photographs of the holy Kaba. His predecessor as FM had installed these; Aziz says he has only changed the frames. On the table is a Starbuck coffee mug with pens in it. Incongruous, isn't it? "My daughter sent it," he laughs lightly. Aziz tells his staff to not put in any calls to him, and then settles down for what is his first media interview after he was nominated PM-in-waiting.

Relaxed and candid, he doesn't shy away from questions, though at times he does hasten to point out which of his replies are off-the-record. He isn't apologetic about his decision to go public regarding his Sunni Muslim background—it had to be done to deny vicious rumours that he's an Ahmadi, declared non-Muslim in Pakistan and consequently proscribed from holding the post of prime minister. Won't the...

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