Pakistan enters a new phase in governance with the election of Pres. Asif Ali Zadari, 53 year old widower of slain leader Benazir Bhutto who died on December 27, 2007. His landslide win on September 6, 2008 is immediately greeted by a huge suicide explosion near Peshawar, a troubled northwest part of the country killing at least 35 and wounding many more. Militants allied with the Taliban claimed responsibility for blowing up a pick-up truck that counted a teacher, a guard and seven police officers among the dead. AP (09/07/08, Khan, R.)
Called Mr. Ten Percent for alleged corruption during the Bhutto administration, Zadari who is considered as a pro-Western liberal is expected to follow Pervez Musharraf’s anti-terrorist efforts. Hard on insurgency in this violence-prone Moslem nation, Zadari’s position is in line with the American campaign against Islamic terrorism in neighboring Afghanistan. But he faces pressure to balance the local crack-down down on militants and his support for United States which recently led a controversial assault against rebels in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
“I’ve been impressed by some of the things he has said about the challenges that Pakistan faces, about the centrality of fighting terrorism, about the fact that the terrorism fight is Pakistan’s fight and also his very strong words of friendship and alliance with the United States,” Condolezza Rice said. AP (09/07/09,Ahmad, M.)
Washington is closely concerned with the future of Pakistan with its arsenal of nuclear weapons. With the power to scrap the parliament and appoint army officers, Zadari heads the civilian-military committee which oversees Pakistan’s nuclear arms. It remains to be seen how much influence Zadari has over the powerful military and the citizenry. Photo Credits: S@jj@ad; Maxi_Leo)=0=