British officials described Zardari as "highly corrupt", "numbskull": WikiLeaks

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London, Feb 6(ANI): British officials described Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari as "highly corrupt" and a "numbskull" who would not last long in office, diplomatic cables unveiled by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks has revealed.

The officials and military leaders gave their damning assessment of Zardari in the months following his election as president in September 2008, The Telegraph reports.

The then British Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup told American diplomats that Pakistan was already in an "arguably worse" state a month after Zardari's election, adding that although the new president had "made helpful political noises, he's clearly a numbskull".

His comments were echoed by other high-ranking British officials who said 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 disclosed 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."

In a cable sent from the US embassy in London to Washington in April 2008, diplomats disclosed that the British government "makes no attempt to hide from us its disdain for Zardari".

"Most in [the goverment] see Zardari as highly corrupt and lacking popular support, simply having benefited from his wife's unfortunate demise," the cable said.

Zardari has been dogged by allegations of corruption, which earned him the nickname "Mr 10 per cent" in Pakistan.

He took over as leader of the Pakistan People's Party from his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto following her assassination in 2007. He was elected Pakistan's President after the military government of General Pervez Musharraf collapsed there. (ANI)

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