Excellent op-ed in The Hindu a couple of days ago about the seriously embattled Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari. His “imminent demise” has been imminent for about as long as he’s been president, but surely his staying power must be running low. As always in Pakistani politics, the army are the ultimate arbiter and it’s amazing to see just how much Zardy has managed to trample over their interests and still be in power:
From the botched attempt to bring the Inter-Services Intelligence under the civilian government’s control, to his insouciant declaration that Pakistan would agree to a “no first use” policy with India for its nuclear weapons, to his statements that the Kashmir issue should be put on the backburner, and that India was not the real enemy, he repeatedly tread on the Army’s toes. His attempt to build an independent relationship with Washington was a further provocation for the Army. He was blamed directly for the put-down of the Army in the Kerry-Lugar legislation, its incorporation of Indian concerns about the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Somewhat inevitably, the government have started spreading the rumour that India are somehow involved in the Taliban attacks that have swept South Waziristan of late. That might temper a bit of the population’s anger, but the charge that Zardari is sucking up to the yanks will be impossible to gloss over.
With a few key deadlines coming up (the Supreme Court deciding whether Mr 10 per cent’s immunity will be revoked; and a promise that he would review the 17th amendment presidential powers in early 2010), Mr Zardari surely can’t stay the course. Then again, people have been saying that for some time.