Islamabad: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and new army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had worked separately for the "honourable exit" of then president Pervez Musharraf after a series of political and strategic blunders by him, according to US diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
In two separate cables written by then US ambassador to Islamabad Anne W. Patterson, details have been given about how the new army chief, Gen Kayani, and leader of the majority party in the new National Assembly, Zardari, had systematically started to distance themselves from Musharraf, Dawn News reported.
In "brief" and "talking points" prepared for US Admiral Mike Mullen during his early 2008 visit to Pakistan, Patterson states: "As expected, (Gen) Kayani is taking slow but deliberate steps to distance the Army from now civilian President Musharraf."
She then goes on to say that Kayani has announced that army "generals would need his permission to meet the President", which was a move apparently aimed at denying the beleaguered former military ruler from lobbying for his further extension as head of state.
In a separate cable about a meeting of US representatives, Adam Schiff and Allyson Schwartz, with Zardari in May 2008, the American ambassador has given details of how the PPP leader (who later became president) advocated for an "honourable exit" of Musharraf.
According to the cable, "Zardari blamed President Musharraf for not taking enough responsibility for the `war on terrorism` in Pakistan", which resulted in a marked increase in anti-American sentiments in the country.
"Anti-US feeling will go away when the old faces go away," the cable said, adding that the US government should no longer rely on just Musharraf in fighting terrorism.
In her own assessment of Musharraf`s public standing, Patterson wrote in the 2008 cable that a year ago his popularity was high. However, "beginning with his decision to fire the chief justice in March 2007, Musharraf has made repeated blunders culminating in a state of emergency and temporary suspension of the constitution".
Detailed reading of some of these cables suggest that by this time all three major players, Zardari, Kayani and the US ambassador, had made up their minds that the time was up for the former military ruler.