The president of Pakistan is in the UK while his country is in the midst of its worst flooding in 80 years. 1,500 are estimated dead, with over a million having lost their homes. The situation is forecast to get even worse with more rain.
So it’s appalling for Asif Ali Zardari, husband of the late Benazir Bhutto, to be seen stepping off planes in the Arabian Gulf, Paris and now London.
To make matters worse, this is not an official state visit. Pakistani security officials last week refused to come to Britain following David Cameron’s remarks about the country playing a double game on terrorism. Zardari will be dropping in on Cameron though.
The real object of the visit is said to be a rally of his party, the PPP, in Birmingham this Saturday (he arrived in the UK yesterday, Tuesday). 3,000-4,000 supporters are expected to be there, to witness something akin to a coronation of his 21-year-old son Bilawal to active political life now that he has graduated from university. The PPP are now playing down the significance of the event, but if it’s not important, it actually makes the state of affairs even worse.
Zardari has come under a torrent of criticism, but he doesn’t seem phased by it. Such lack of accountability and distance from your people is what comes when political leadership is passed as a family heirloom literally written in last will and testaments.