Tag Archives | President Zardari

Do not pontificate, President Zardari

…when it means nothing for an indignant Indian nation.

While his op-ed piece in the NYT may have been targeted at the international constituency which put him in power and can help him continue there, his highfalutin advise to India sounds vacuous and trite.

In the current environment, reconciliation and rapprochement is the best revenge against the dark forces that are trying to provoke a confrontation between Pakistan and India, and ultimately a clash of civilizations.

An indignant India would have instead liked President Zardari to answer the following questions before penning his piece.

1. Who will punish the controllers and masters of these terrorists, who wreaked this havoc on Mumbai?

2. Will this prevent another terrorist attack from happening in India?

3. Do you have any power over the Pakistan army and ISI, which have favoured and still favour the use of terrorism as a tool of foreign policy?

If he had made some concrete promises, President Zardari could have been asked to walk the talk.

Such asinine drivel would have been usually ignored with a smirk, if it were not for the horrific tragedy at Mumbai. It rather gets us furious and outraged at his temerity to pontificate.

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For internal consumption only

Zardari’s warnings to Petraeus are aimed only at his domestic audience.

First, the “democratically elected” Pakistani government took offence to the cross-border raid by US ground forces inside Pakistani territory. There have been no further reports of cross-border raids by the US ground forces since. That may have been done partially to cater to Pakistani sensitivities, but certainly the main reason was because the US military might be finding such operations riskier and of limited tactical benefits vis-a-vis aerial strikes by unmanned drones.

Then, on October 29, the Pakistani government summoned the US Ambassador to Islamabad, Anne W. Patterson  to demand a halt to air strikes on its soil by American forces, saying the operations weaken the ability of the government to fight terrorism. A missile from a US drone killed 27 people in Kari Kot in Pakistan’s South Waziristan district on October 31, signifying that such démarche did little to alter US military strategy in the border areas of Pakistan.

President Zardari has repeated these warnings to General Petraeus during his maiden visit to Islamabad as the head of the US Central Command.

“The focus should be more on enhanced coordination and intelligence-sharing,” Zardari told the U.S. officials today when they met at his residence during a visit to Pakistan, according to a Pakistani government statement. The cross-border raids from Afghanistan have killed Pakistanis and destroyed property, “creating a credibility gap” as members of the public pressure their leaders to explain the U.S. actions, Zardari said.

And Petraeus’ reply was nothing more than a polite acknowledgement.

“In fact, we got certain messages with each of those we talked today and some of those were very clear and we have to take those on-board,” Petraeus said Monday, adding later, “The tone of the conversation was very frank and very forthright, as it should be.”

President Zardari and his government have little  control over the actions initiated by the US forces in Pakistani territories bordering Afghanistan. The Pakistani state and its military are so dependent on US dole that any belligerence by the Pakistani security forces inviting the US wrath is likely to bring the Pakistani nation at the brink of an existential disaster.

Unlike Musharraf, Zardari is the head of a political party that runs the federal government in Pakistan. He has to per force make the right noises to address the concerns of his domestic constituency. However rather than pacifying the anti-US sentiments in the country, such publicly reported warnings by Zardari only tend to strengthen the public portrayal of the US as a satanic state that cares little for Pakistan and its elected government.

So will the drone attacks inside Pakistan by US military stop now? They may stop, but that will have nothing to do with Zardari’s warning to Petraeus and Boucher. It will only result due to a dramatic, but unlikely, shift in the US military strategy for tackling insurgency in the region. President Zardari would be hoping against hope that Dave Petraeus is the catalyst for that change in the US strategy.

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Image of misquotes and misspellings

The controversy over Asif Zardari’s misspelt remark “to save Pakistan” on the Visitor’s Book at Jinnah’s tomb refuses to boil over. First there was an unwarranted denial by the Presidential spokesman. Then the reputed Pakistani columnist, Ardeshir Cowasjee stood by his version to tell an even more sordid tale of spooks, replaced pages, allegations and counter allegations by the media — indicating nothing but a very image conscious Pakistani President.

Now, the Wall Street Journal has stepped in to close the debate over what President Zardari exactly said in that controversial interview with the newspaper. They have released the audio clips of Zardari’s on-the record remarks. Check them out at The Acorn.

The Pakistani President seems too caught up in a web of image, misquotes and misspellings while the parlous internal security and frail economic situation in Pakistan need his utmost, urgent and undivided attention. As President Zardari probably understands–

We don’t live in a world of reality; we live in a world of perceptions.

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Howler: F-16s to reduce collateral damage

While President Zardari is seeking bundles of Chinese cash to tide over Pakistan’s grave economic crisis, the Bush administration is trying its level best to finance the furnishing of ageing F-16 aircrafts.

The US government has already accepted Pakistan’s request to upgrade the aircraft, equipping them with modern technology and weapon systems to make them compatible with newer versions of the F-16s. The mid-life upgrading will cost a total of $891 million. Pakistan agreed to pay $417 million and asked the United States to provide $474 million.

In July this year, the US State Department notified the committee that it had accepted Pakistan’s request to make available $226 million from the foreign military finance programme for upgrading the F-16s.

…The United States is already providing $224 million but needs Congress’s permission for the remaining $250 million.[Dawn]

The howler in the White House arguments is the ostensible purpose for refurbishing these fighter aircrafts. Only if Zardari or Kayani could make the same statement in so many words in Pakistan or the US could provide some proof of F-16s being used against terrorists in FATA. Continue Reading →

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