'Embattled' Zardari likely to hold on for some time to come: NYT

Posted By: Staff
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New York, Jan.21 (ANI): Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has come under relentless attacks from different quarters, but has some how managed to hold on to his chair, much to the discomfort to those who are vying for his blood.

While Zardari, time and again, has clarified that he does not face any threat from the Army, and that he is ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of democracy, there are three major factors posing a threat to his tattered 'Presidency'.

"He's come to the conclusion that if judiciary or the military want to knock him out, they can.But he wants to fight back. That has given him a new lease on life, but his basic problem remains the same," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore based analyst.

The most serious of the three threats has always been his strained relationship with country's armed forces, The New York Times reports.

When he took office in September 2008, Zardari struck a conciliatory tone with India, which angered the military, and increased problems for himself again when he indicated that intelligence should be under civilian control.

He has since backed off those positions.

Analysts believe that the most immediate threat to Zardari comes from the judiciary, as Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is leaving no stone unturned to topple him through reopening the corruption cases following declaring the amnesty law, National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), defunct and unconstitutional.

"You have the judiciary emerging as a real force with populist ambitions. That is creating a huge gridlock. A clash between Zardari and the judiciary is very likely now," said Najam Sethi, a well-known Pakistani journalist.

Zardari is also battling attacks from the opposition; particularly from former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

So far, Sharif has refused to join the chorus of voices calling for Zardari's resignation. But his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab Province, has adopted a tough stand and has been vehemently demanding Zardari's removal.

However, the newspaper said that it is unlikely that Zardari's political opponents would bring his downfall, and the Army seems to be least interested in another stint in the country's politics.

"Strangely, Zardari's weakness may serve him in the end. The army seems to have less appetite to re-enter politics directly, having seen its reputation badly tarnished during Musharraf's years of military rule. A weak civilian leader, on the other hand, presents no threat to its power," it said. (ANI)

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