The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s decision to not invite the opposition parties to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman during his recent visit was highly regrettable. The visit of such a high-profile dignitary from the Middle East should have been seen by the PTI leadership as an opportunity to set differences aside so the world could be shown that the country’s political leadership was on the same page about attracting investment that could lead to economic prosperity, and opening Pakistan up to the world for trade and tourism. Though a parliamentary delegation was eventually able to meet the crown prince on Monday, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stayed away from this meeting in protest of the opposition not being invited to official engagements. It is highly unfortunate that such a major opposition party which is power in a province had no representation at such a major diplomatic event. Presenting a united front was all the more important, considering the aftermath of the Pulwama attack and the bellicose stance New Delhi has taken against Pakistan in recent days. It should not be forgotten that India is the next stop on MBS’s tour of the region. Sadly, this opportunity was wasted and a landmark event was used to settle political scores. Responses from PTI representatives to initial complaints about keeping the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and PPP leaders away from the visit were also undemocratic and not in line with parliamentary norms. In a tweet, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry claimed that inviting the opposition would not serve any purpose, as all prominent opposition members were facing corruption charges while those left had no political standing. Not only is it in bad taste for a federal minister to disregard the political capabilities of members of the Parliament in such a way, he should also be reminded that facing corruption charges does not equate to being found guilty. Therefore, senior members of the opposition such as PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto should have been invited to meet with MBS and the Saudi delegation. However, this is not a first for the PTI government. Opposition members were also not invited to the Kartarpur border opening ceremony. That was another event where presenting a united front to the world was crucial. Unfortunately, political rivalries took precedent there as well and the opening became a PTI-dominated affair. Prime Minister Imran Khan and the rest of the PTI leadership must adopt a more inclusive attitude during such major events in the future. Pakistan can only truly be represented when all its elected representatives are given a seat at the table. * Published in Daily Times, February 20th 2019.