Zardari’s performance better than expected: Expert

A US expert said Asif Ali Zardari is largely following late Benazir Bhutto`s agenda of reform and restoration.

Washington: Pakistan`s embattled President Asif Ali Zardari has performed better than any prior civilian government of the country and led attempts to rebuild some of the badly weakened Constitutional institution in the turbulent nation, a US expert has said.

Thought the Pakistani President is facing systematic attempts by the opposition and intelligence services to portray him corrupt, his government led by the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has performed better than expected in a country mostly been ruled by military dictators after independence.

Lacking his wife`s brilliance and charisma, America`s foremost expert on the subcontinent, Stephen P Cohen, said that Zardari is largely following late Benazir Bhutto`s agenda of reform and restoration rather than transformation.

Complaints of corruption against Zardari have faded in 2011 as the problems facing Pakistan-notably terror attacks-have shifted attention to the military and its inability to control domestic violence, Cohen writes.

Cohen`s ratings of the new Pakistani government are carried in a book `The Future of Pakistan` brought out by Brookings Institute - a prestigious Washington-based think-tank.

"Little was expected of Zardari, a Karachi-born, Sindhi-speaking politician from Punjab`s Multan district, but in partnership with stalwart PPP members, his government, led by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, has performed better than any prior civilian government-not a great accomplishment, but one that should not be belittled," the US expert said.

"In the three years of Zardari`s presidency, there have been significant changes in Pakistan`s constitutional arrangements and an attempt to rebuild some of the badly weakened institutions of the Pakistani state," Cohen writes.

Summarising, Cohen says that indicators of the competence of the Pakistani state are generally negative. "Despite the efforts of the Zardari administration to reform the system, all of the levers of power-the civil bureaucracy, the higher decision making system, and the public-private interface-are incoherent," he wrote.

"The state has yet to regain the integrity that it had forty or fifty years ago, even though it is called on to do much more in terms of economic development and public administration. Corruption is rife, but it would be
acceptable if the government were able to deliver the basic services expected of a modern state. The media and the NGO community cannot replace the state; nonetheless, fundamental reform is not supported by the strongest institution of all, the Army," Cohen concluded.


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