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Pakistan President Zardari's nine political lives

There were predictions in the last few months of 2009 that Pakistan's President Zardari was finished. But he has defended himself aggressively in recent days and won back some political ground.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari looks at pictures of his wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto as he speaks on the second anniversary of her assassination at the family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bukash, Pakistan, on December 27.

Nadeem Soomro/Reuters

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Pakistan’s US-backed president, Asif Ali Zardari, appears to have survived a campaign to oust him, a storm that had threatened to sidetrack the country from its battle with Islamic extremists.

Although there were predictions in the last few months of 2009 that he was finished, Zardari has defended himself aggressively in recent days and won some political allies. The news media and the judiciary had appeared to be closing in on him, but in a world of political shadow boxing, many analysts and politicians think that Pakistan’s powerful military has been behind the drive to force the president out of office.

“I think he is fighting back admirably,” said Abida Hussain, a senior member of Zardari’s Pakistan People's Party. “He threw down the gauntlet, fair and square, and the conspirators, if any, seem to be backing off.”

The confrontation had sparked fears that the army, which has ruled Pakistan for most of its existence, would intervene again, perhaps to force fresh elections when the country is under pressure from the Obama administration to launch an offensive in North Waziristan, a vital Pakistani refuge for al Qaida and the Taliban.

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