President Asif Zardari is right under the spot light. Rather, it will be more appropriate to say that PPP's top man is under microscope with his negatives, more than positives, being magnified before the public by both the media and political circles, quite oblivious of its consequences for a fragile democracy. This is pretty understandable and a familiar pattern in the country. Every time a civilian set-up takes over in Pakistan, its leaders are maligned and their image and credibility is tarnished. They are declared by their own class and also by sections of media as uneducated, uncouth and even unpatriotic. The same pattern is emerging once again with the new set of PPP leaders seem to be on receiving end for no fault of their own, struggling to clear the mess created by the previous military regime with its double standards.  Take the example of President Zardari's meeting with Sarah Palin and hullabaloo his light hearted exchange created back home. It remained on the tip of every tongue in the city whereever you go.  The political circles one interacts with at different functions and Iftars and appearing on TV were quick to pass their verdict on his 'immoral' remarks, saying it was unbecoming of President to indulge in such remarks with a lady who could be the next Vice President of the US. The little exchange of courtesies even overshadowed not only his entire visit but also the good that Zardari achieved during his first outing abroad. The new vigilantes out to pick holes, followed him up to even Mazar-i-Quaid, blaming him for misspelling the word God while entering his comments in the official book. Before that it was reported much to the amusement of certain sections that there was a stampede at a function in which the PPP's entire cream was in attendance including President and Prime Minister when Marriott blast took place. It was stated that while Prime Minister and President took refuge under tables, it was Army Chief Kiani who remained calm and cool. Interestingly, as the political leadership is taken for ride and ridiculed, Mr. Kiani is being built up in the media. He appears in the TV and so his statements in the press more frequently. Returning to Zardari's visit to New York where he was invited to address the General Assembly like other leaders of world. Back in Pakistan all eyes were glued to TV to find out what our new set of leaders were up to this time around. Special programmes and talk shows were organised to analyse the visit, the good and bad about it. The visit was quite eventful-not a bad start for the PPP government either. Zardari will be leaving US a lot more confident, making some personnel gains by the end of the day. It turned out to be a huge PR exercise for him. He met within no time several world leaders, projecting Pakistan's viewpoint on war on terror as opposed to US viewpoint in this respect. It appeared that Zardari managed to prevail over the US leadership as far as sovereignty issue was concerned. It appears that he has been able to bring home to US leaders the importance to draw new rules of engagement instead of its hot pursuits well inside Pakistan. No wonder, we all witnessed Bush ordering a review of US engagement in the region soon after his meeting with Pakistan's new President. It is not only US leaders he prevailed over. Before that he even brought around British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in his meeting at London, declaring that US raids will not be helpful in the ongoing war in a well-thought out statement, issued a couple of days after the meeting. He also defended very strongly the country's sovereignty issue in the face of US incursion in Pakistan. He also urged the world to be more supportive for young and fragile democracies. His position on this issue prodded Bush to say, "your words have been very strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and duty to protect you" The meetings with top US functionaries, taking place with trust-deficit on the increase between the two countries would go a long way in building confidence, badly needed to ensure cooperation in the ongoing war in Afghanistan. It seemed that after Musharraf now the US-led West appeared ready to work with Zardari. While a consortium has been established with the title of Friends of Pakistan, comprising representatives from G-8, Middle Eat and China during his stay in New York, it is not sure as yet how much aid this forum will be able to generate for Pakistan. More importantly, what conditions will be attached to any such aid. The consortium will meet next month to consider aid for Pakistan. It is encouraging sign also that all the international financial institutions have started lending to Pakistan again with the World Bank promising 2.5b billion.  But the country needs a lot more to come out of the prevailing crunch. E-mail: nadeemsyed@nation.com.pk