Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Pakistan’s Zardari wins mixed reviews with U.S. trip


President Asif Ali Zardari meets Alaska Governor Sarah Palin/Shannon StapletonDepending on who you read, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was either an embarrassment for trying to flirt with Sarah Palin during his trip to New York last week, or a street-smart wheeler-dealer bravely standing up to Islamist militancy after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto.

Time revisits the encounter between Zardari and Palin – in which he told the vice-presidential candidate she was gorgeous and threatened to hug her in a scene now frequently being replayed on YouTube – writing that it led to Zardari being “pilloried at home as a source of national embarrassment and accused of sexism and impropriety”.

In contrast, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen  was fulsome in his praise of a man filling what he calls ’the most dangerous job on earth’. This is one of the most positive, if not the most positive, reviews I have ever read about Zardari.

President Zardari addresses UN General Assembly/Eric Thayer“My impression?” writes Cohen. “This guy’s very smart, street smart, a wheeler-dealer in an area full of them, secular, pro-American, committed to democracy, and brave. I never heard (former president Pervez) Musharraf frame Pakistan’s fight against terrorism with such candor. I believe he wants genuine conciliation with India and Afghanistan, essential to the region’s stability. (Positive meetings were held here with the Indian and Afghan leaders.). I care much less right now about his checkered past than about getting behind him for civilization’s sake.”