Saturday, February 5, 2011

New WikiLeaks - British officials described Asif Ali Zardari,as “highly corrupt” and a “numbskull”

WikiLeaks cables: Zardari is a numbskull, British told Americans
British officials described Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, as “highly corrupt” and a “numbskull”, according to leaked documents.
The officials and military leaders gave their damning assessment of Mr Zardari in the months following his election as president in September, 2008.

Sir Jock Stirrup, then Chief of the Defence Staff, told American diplomats that Pakistan was already in an “arguably worse” state a month after Mr Zardari’s election. He added that although the new president had “made helpful political noises, he’s clearly a numbskull”.

His comments were echoed by high-ranking British officials who said Mr Zardari had “not much sense of how to govern a country” and no goals beyond “hanging on to power”.

A leaked record of the talks with US officials discloses that Sir Peter Ricketts, the permanent secretary to the Foreign Office and David Cameron's national security adviser, said the British government “would like to believe in Zardari”, but added: “I fear he talks and talks but not much happens.”

Mr Zardari took over as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party from his estranged wife, the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, following her assassination in 2007.

He was elected president after the military government of Gen Pervez Musharraf collapsed. In a cable sent to Washington from the US embassy in London in April, 2008, diplomats disclosed that the British government “makes no attempt to hide from us its disdain for Zardari”.
The cable states: “Most in [the goverment] see Zardari as highly corrupt and lacking popular support, simply having benefited from his wife’s unfortunate demise.”
Mr Zardari has been dogged by allegations of corruption, which earned him the nickname “Mr 10 per cent” in Pakistan. He and Miss Bhutto were convicted ofmoney laundering by a Swiss court in 2003, but they denied the charges and appealed. The case was one of thousands abandoned in 2007 when the Pakistangovernment enacted a controversial amnesty that allowed Miss Bhutto to return from exile.
Judges in the Supreme Court overturned the amnesty in December, 2009, raising the prospect that Mr Zardari could face prosecution.
But he was spared the threat of facing further charges last April when the Swiss attorney general ruled that he held immunity under international law.


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