Islamabad, Sept 6 : Though his party the PPP has brought forth strong defence in support of his mental health, some of his party insiders say that PPP Co-chairman and presidential hopeful Asif Ali Zardari seems paranoid at times because of intense public scrutiny, numerous threats to his life and his wife's highly public assassination last year.
According to the Washington Post, Zardari's circle of trusted aides and advisers is "relatively small as a result".
"At times, he is someone who tries too hard to read between the lines, and he seems to be someone who is quite fearful of the invisible hand of Pakistan's intelligence agencies," the paper quoted a party adviser on the condition of anonymity.
Several other PPP leaders are of the similar opinion, claimed the paper.
It said that Zardari aides have mounted a vigorous defense, saying that the reports of 60 million dollars in frozen assets were "untrue". They have also sought to recast his reported mental health problems as a natural but temporary result of years of torture.
"Like anyone who has been through 11 1/2 years in prison, his health was affected at that time. But he is a remarkable and resilient person. He is in extremely good health in every sense," said Farah Ispahani, a top PPP spokeswoman.
It further said that an assassination attempt on Zardari's political associate and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on Wednesday served to raise already heightened concerns about Zardari's safety. "Those concerns are one reason he has largely refrained from making public appearances or granting interviews in the days leading up to the election," say his supporters.
The paper said that if he becomes the President, Zardari will face the daunting test of a divided Parliament. In recent days, he has come under attack from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his onetime partner in the coalition government formed after their parties were swept to power in Feb. 18 national parliamentary elections.