Soon after’s Asif Ali Zardari’s return from an 18-month self-imposed exile on December 23, he announced his’ and his son’s Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari participation in by-elections to become part of the parliament. He continues to stay in the limelight and has disclosed plans to attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump later this month.

While PPPs antics have borne the brunt of political criticism, political analysts have to agree that Mr Zardari’s focus on maintaining strong bilateral ties with key geopolitical players both during his tenure and as a larger part of his portfolio as a political candidate, deserves recognition. In fact, Mr Zardari’s foreign policy with regards to Russia has been the cornerstone of the improvement in Pak-Russo ties. While the public and media normally criticise high-level visits as they give loss to the national exchequer, Mr Zardari’s visit to Russia was much appreciated as it introduced a fundamental shift and a new opportunity in Pakistan foreign relations especially in view of the country’s burdened relationship with the United States. Presidents Zardari and Medvedev met six times during the former’s term, raising the quality and quantity of the bilateral exchanges with Pakistan and encouraging Russia to pursue a multi-vectored policy in South Asia.

Similarly, while Asif Zardari’s attendance of Trump’s inauguration can be seen as a move to reinvigorate the political authority of PPP and foster public goodwill, it is also a chance for the returning candidate to lay grounds for a more promising US-Pak relationship. Miraculous as that would be, if managed, it would certainly be a feather in Mr Zardari’s cap.

The government has still not confirmed whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend Trump’s oath-taking but the premier is likely to visit the US soon for a bilateral meeting with the new president-elect. For now, while PML-N and PTI are locked in scandals, there is maybe a lesson to be learnt from how Mr Zardari is playing the political game in the lead-up to the 2018 elections.