Deep in Karen DeYoung’s piece today in The Washington Post about what ongoing political instability in Pakistan means for its relationship with the Obama administration is this bit of bitterness at Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s attempts to broker a compromise between President Asif Ali Zardari and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif:
By calling Sharif last weekend, a senior Pakistani official close to Zardari said, Clinton further weakened the government.
The administration’s intervention, the official said, “has lasting implications for how much the Zardari government is going to go out on a limb for the U.S., for how much we will trust them.”
This is more significant for what it reveals about Zardari than anything else. For three weeks, Zardari was on the receiving end of popular anger over breaking his promise to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry as chief justice, and Sharif was on the precipice of leading a popular movement to Zardari’s front door. Zardari’s political allies were using words like “endgame” to describe his government. Today, he’s still president. The “Long March” has dispersed. Sharif has no obvious issue to raise against him, at least in the near term. For Zardari to be looking for ways to spite Clinton says a fair amount about his ability to see a bigger picture, and that in turn says quite a bit about his reliability as an ally.
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