Russia and Eurasia

Bye Bye Zardari (Again)? Washington Considers The Political Alternative in Pakistan

0 14

Scott Lucas


oon after the Obama Administration took office, we concluded that its Pakistan policy was going around President Asif Ali Zardari, rather than working with him. Two weeks ago, we wrote that the US was behind a de facto military leadership of Pakistani policy, especially in the fight against insurgents in the northwest of the country.


Now Washington’s idea of a political alternative is emerging. The New York Times revealed on Saturday that the US is trying to bring Zardari’s long-time rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (pictured), into the Pakistani Government. Administration officials told the newspaper, “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, have both urged Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif to look for ways to work together.”

That in itself is not news. The Long March demonstrations in March exposed Zardari’s political weakness and, conversely, elevated Sharif as leader of democratic opposition. During the protests, Clinton and Holbrooke talked to both men to avoid a violent showdown.

What is significant in the latest report is the open backing of Obama officials of Sharif, formerly seen as too close to “Islamist” (the shorthand for conservative religious groups, backed by Saudi Arabia) elements in Palistan. The simple reason? In the aftermath of the Long March, Sharif is seen as generally popular in contrast to widespread dislike for Zardari. An Obama official said bluntly, “The idea here is to tie Sharif’s popularity to things we think need to be done, like dealing with the militancy.”

Washington’s readiness to ditch Zardari, or at least push him to the side, was evident last week in statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and President Obama; however, it reached a new level in leaks from General David Petraeus, the head of the US Central Command. After Petraeus spoke with US Congressmen, Fox News claimed that the General asserted “the Pakistanis have run out of excuses” for their failure to confront the insurgency.Petraeus reportedly gave the Pakistani Government two weeks to take “concrete action to destroy the Taliban”.


Zardari’s allies have tried to push back, rather lamely, with claims that the President is already talking to Sharif about their co-operation in Government. As the Pakistani military reclaimed the town of Buner, 60 miles north of Islamabad, back from insurgents, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, used The Wall Street Journal — the preferred outlet of Zardari’s public-relations machine — to counter-attack:

President Asif Zardari has repeatedly declared the war against them a war for Pakistan’s soul…..Meanwhile, the change of administration in the U.S. has slowed the flow of assistance to Pakistan. Unfortunately, ordinary Pakistanis have begun to wonder if our alliance with the West is bringing any benefits at all.

It appears, however, that all this is too late to persuade Washington that Zardari is reliable. On Saturday, Petraeus was in all-day meetings with senior Administration officials on Afghanistan and Pakistan. It may be too early to decode the latest American moves — Secretary of Defense Gates’ interview with CNN, airing today, was recorded earlier in the week — but here’s a safe bet:

If Washington has its way, President Zardari will be pushing his chair to the back of the room.

About the author / 


Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • 25th Issue is Online Now!

    Vol. VI | No. IV – October-November-December 2020 To Download the Magazine Click Here… CONTENTS 05-13….. World News by Ebru Birinci 15-20….. The Jungle Grows Back How can We Redefine the Future World Order in the Tension of Power and Ideas? by Marco Marsili 22-29….. Interview With Professor Katharyne Mitchell by Ozgur Tufekci & Rahman…

  • 24th Issue is Online Now!

    Vol. VI | No. III – July-August-September 2020 To Download the Magazine Click Here… CONTENTS 05-14….. World News by Ebru Birinci 17-24….. Preparedness for an Uncertain Future “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself” by Professor Mark Meirowitz 25-39….. EU LAW vs UK LAW The Primacy of EU Law over National Law:…

  • IEPAS2020 is Going Virtual!

    Dear Friends and Colleagues, IEPAS2020 is Going Virtual! Due to the COVID19 pandemic, we are holding our entire conference virtually by streaming all of the live sessions. You may participate in all of our virtual networking events. In case of missing a session, you may get full access to the replays of every session since all…

  • The 13th issue of JCTS (Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security) is out now…

    The 13th issue of JCTS (Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security) is out now… Vol. 8 | No. 1 | 2020 Click here to Download the Entire Issue   TABLE OF CONTENTS Editor’s Note By David Curran Introduction By Nergis Canefe Research Articles Statelessness as a Permanent State: Challenges to the Human Security Paradigm By…

  • The 19th Issue of The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development is Out Now!

    The 19th issue of the rest: journal of politics and development is out now. Download the issue here… TABLE OF CONTENTS Research Articles Turkish AK Parti’s Posture towards the 2003 War in Iraq: The Impact of Religion amid Security Concerns By Alberto Gasparetto Nigeria and the Great Powers: The Impacts of the Boko Haram Terrorism on…

  • CESRAN International Named again amongst the Top Think Tanks in the World

    CESRAN International is pleased to announce that it has been named again amongst the world’s best think tanks. The 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index ranked CESRAN International 141st among the World’s “Top Think Tanks in Western Europe” 75th among the World’s “Top Environment Policy Think Tanks” 153rd among the World’s “Top Foreign Policy…