Weakness at Top Worsens Pakistan's Woes

Zardari has alienated party allies and foes alike: officials
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Feb 26, 2009 12:19 PM CST
Zardari, right, confers a civilian award to visiting Joe Biden in Islamabad. Washington is likely concerned about the political infighting distracting Pakistan from fighting terrorists.   (AP Photo/Press Information Department, HO)
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(Newser) – In less than 6 months at Pakistan's helm, Asif Ali Zardari has surrounded himself with cronies, alienated top advisers, and created a situation that has diplomats warning that he's undercutting efforts to oppose al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Benazir Bhutto's widower is holed up inside his palace, and cabinet ministers who venture there risk public insult: He called one "impotent" and told another to "shut up," the Wall Street Journal reports

Zardari's latest move—dismissing a provincial government yesterday following a court ruling against his political opposition—led to a 5% drop in Pakistan's stock exchange. Through a spokesman, Zardari denied that he is fueling disputes and reiterated a commitment to unite the fractious nation. Says one frustrated senator, "This is what you come to expect at the presidency. You go there and you are insulted."