Washington: Describing Pakistan`s powerful
army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as a "complicated figure," a
top US expert on South Asia has said the General along with
ISI`s Ahmad Shuja Pasha is the one who calls the shots in that
country while President Asif Ali Zardari is "absolutely
despised and loathed."
"It`s interesting that the United States claims to want a
democratic Pakistan, but whenever there`s a Congressional
delegation that goes to Pakistan, they don`t meet their
counterparts in the National Assembly. They all want to meet
General Kayani and General Pasha, because they understand
that`s where the power lies," said Christina Fair of the
"What Pakistan is doing vis-a-vis the terrorist groups
that target India as well as us, like Lashkar-e-Taiba, what
Pakistan is doing vis-a-vis the Afghan-Taliban, those policies
are all going to be negotiated by General Kayani and General
Pasha," she said in an interview to the popular National
It will be very difficult for the US to achieve its
objectives in the war against terrorism and nuclear
proliferation by alienating the Pakistani army, Fair said.
"But in some sense, that`s exactly what it has to do if
it wants to secure a future for Pakistan that is democratic
and where the civilians have control over the military, not
the military having control over the civilians," she said in
response to a question.
Kayani is an interesting fellow, Fair said, adding that
interestingly enough, the United States is always besotted by
the newest chief of army staff. "They`re convinced that he`s a
democrat, that he means well, all of these things. But the
reality is he`s a much more complicated figure," she said.
"He was the director of the ISI, which is the
all-important intelligence agency, during the time when
Pakistan began its U-turn... against the Taliban. So, it`s
interesting that we herald him now as the saviour of Pakistan
in some measure, when it was his policies when he was the ISI
chief that brought about some of the most precipitous
conflicts in US-Pakistan relations over Afghanistan," she
Zardari wields very little power, Fair said. "His powers
were largely stripped after the passage of the 18th Amendment,
which took many of the powers that (former) President (Pervez)
Musharraf arrogated to the position of the President, and
redistributed them back to the Prime Minister. So, he is
constitutionally weakened, but he is also very problematic
domestically, because he is absolutely despised and loathed."
"Equally importantly, he`s failed to deal with corruption
for obvious reasons. He is really not perceived to have
managed very effectively the crises of the floods and the
rehabilitation and reconstruction following the Pakistan
army`s counter-insurgency operations in Swat and elsewhere,"
Zardari is not a popular president, she said. "He is
known as Mr Ten Per Cent. Some would say Mr 110 Per Cent,"
Fair said. "I mean, if you want to get a large infrastructure
contract in Pakistan, it is alleged that Mr Zardari will take
a negotiation fee," she said.