The Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) is upbeat that their leader was the only figure from Pakistani politics to be invited to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. While they have a fair reason to hope for the good that may come out for the party from his ‘high-profile’ visit, the fact is that the invitation did not come from the US government. A lobbyist for Pakistan, associated with a think tank in the US seems to be the real figure extending the invitation. According to PPPP Vice-President Senator Sherry Rehman, Mr Zardari has a “packed schedule” in the US where he is set to meet several republicans and key democrat leaders, but not Mr Trump himself.

The party wasted no time in boasting about the visit and how it would enhance PPP’s chances of returning to power in 2018 due to this ‘acceptance’ by the new US administration. The PPPP chief would have to contest these elections based on his previous experience and service to the Pakistani public, rather than his perceived relationship with the international community. Nonetheless his presence at the presidential inauguration on January 20 will be good PR for the party. In aiming to revive the party and forming an alliance with the like-minded parties for the 2018 polls, PPP could benefit from some international visibility.

Now that the PPPP leader is going to be in the US, it is hoped that he projects a positive image of Pakistan. Political competition at home is acceptable and healthy but while abroad political leaders must project an image of unity and respect for democracy. Perhaps Mr Zardari could lay the foundation for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is expected to visit Washington in a few weeks to meet Mr Trump and discuss troubled Pak-US ties.