UK officials called Zardari corrupt, numbskull



London: In a damning assessment, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has been described by British officials as "highly corrupt" and a "numbskull".

The assessment of Zardari was made by officials and military leaders in the months after his election as president in September 2008, The Daily Telegraph reported citing documents leaked by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.

Sir Jock Stirrup, then Chief of the Defence staff, told American diplomats that Pakistan was already in an "arguably worse" state a month after Zardari's election.

He said Although Zardari had made "helpful political noises", he's clearly a numbskull.

His comments were echoed by high-ranking British officials who said Zardari had "not much sense of how to govern a country" and "no goals beyond hanging on to power".

A leaked record of the talks with US officials indicated that Sir Peter Ricketts, the permanent secretary to the Foreign Office and now David Cameron's national security adviser, said the British government "would like to believe in Zardari" but added: "I fear he talks and talks but not much happens."

Zardari took over as leader of the Pakistan People's Party after his wife former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007.

He was elected president after military government of Gen Pervez Musharraf collapsed.

In a cable sent to Washington from the US embassy in London in April 2008, diplomats disclosed that the British government "makes no attempt to hide from us its disdain for Zardari".

According to the cable: "Most in the government see Zardari as highly corrupt and lacking popular support simply having benefited from his wife's unfortunate demise."

PTI