Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has arrived in the Maldives on a three-day official visit to participate as the chief guest in upcoming Independence Day ceremonies.
The Maldives marks the 52nd anniversary of independence from the British on July 26. An official ceremony featuring mass games and military drills will take place at the national stadium in Malé tomorrow night, followed by an official banquet hosted by the first couple on Thursday night.
Sharif was welcomed at the Velana International Airport by President Abdulla Yameen and First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim as the Maldives National Defence Force presented a Guard of Honour.
According to the president’s office, the two leaders will hold official talks and sign “a number of Memorandums of Understanding for cooperation in various fields”.
Sharif was accompanied by his wife Begum Kalsoom and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement that 51-year-old diplomatic relations between the two countries have been “characterised by cordiality, mutual respect and commonality of interests,” and suggested that the visit would “provide impetus to further strengthen our bilateral relations with the Maldives in all areas, including politics, trade, economy, defence, tourism, education and people to people contacts.”
The official visit comes with Sharif mired in controversy after a damning corruption report by an investigative panel alleged that his family owns properties in London through offshore companies.
The Maldives is also facing renewed political turmoil with a four-party opposition coalition led by former Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed seeking to wrest control of parliament and challenge Yameen’s grip of power.