President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan has been using the Washington Post as his forum for requesting aid from the U.S. while, at the same time, engaging in defaming our country. In January of this year, he wrote an op-ed in the Post congratulating President Obama on his victory. The agenda of Zardari became obvious when he went on to encourage the President to influence Congress to pass the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act which called for $1.5 billion in aid to Pakistan annually for 5 years. See: http:// www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/27/AR2009012702675.html. Though the bill passed; Zardari’s attacks on the U.S. appear to be hypocritical considering his own record of corruption among other allegations. In the article; he basically blames the U.S. for the present state of Pakistan. He cites our withdrawal from the region in the 80s after the Soviet invasion as the reason for the influx of Islamic extremists such as al Qaeda and the Taliban. Conversely, he goes on to say; “This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying.”
Yesterday; The Washington Post chose to publish another of Zardari’s unusual pleas for aid. In it, he points to our “debacle in Vietnam” and our propensity to court dictators naming the Shah of Iran and Marcos of the Philippines as examples. http:// www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/21/AR2009062101793.html?wpisrc=newsletter&upisrc. As stated earlier; Zardari is the last person to be questioning the actions of any government or individual. One would think this approach to be counter-productive yet he knows that the future of Pakistan is a major priority of the Obama administration. “Pakistan has repeatedly been identified as the most critical external problem facing the new administration.” Obviously using this as leverage; he implores the governments in Europe to join the U.S. in providing financial aid as well as equipment and technology to help fight the insurgents.
What infuriates me is that we continue to coddle this less than reputable con artist. I must confess that my anger is exacerbated by the fact that there is some validity to his accusations. That being said; this is a man who has spent close to 11 years in prison for crimes ranging from corruption to murder and conspiracy to commit murder. See: http:// www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/articleY692223.ece. For a man who persistently cites the poverty prevalent in his country; his own financial worth is estimated to be close to $2 billion. Much of his fortune is alleged to have been amassed illegally. He rejected a capital gains tax that would have helped the poor in Pakistan. Though I admit to not putting much stock in Wikipedia; it is reported that Zardari and his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, embezzled $1.5 billion from the government.
The problem I find is that we are not in a position to allow Pakistan to take on the Taliban alone. Presently; the Taliban has been able to infiltrate deep into Pakistan. Some reports claim that they are only 40 miles outside of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. Access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal poses a very real threat for the U.S. and its’ allies. Never known for my own diplomatic abilities; I do believe it’s time we tell this thief that if he wants our support; it may be time to cease with his personal attacks on our country. While our granting asylum to the likes of the Shah may be despicable; it’s not for this criminal to criticize us.