Pakistan's Zardari says 'losing war' against Taliban ahead of David Cameron meeting
Today, two British Pakistani members of parliament, Khalid Mahmood and Lord Ahmed, an influential figure, canceled a meeting with Zardari, saying it was an inappropriate time for a visit. Zardari’s generals, who scotched a British visit after Mr. Cameron's comments, also opposed his trip.
Chatham House analyst Farzana Shaikh in London says that “this will not be an easy visit. [Zardari] comes to Britain in the face of furious opposition in Pakistan to the trip, including his allies.... The Cameron comments gave him an opportunity to bow out without losing face. But he has a knack for being out of the country when he is most needed.”
Yet Zardari is soldiering on. Today in France, the former husband and legacy-bearer of assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto said that the international community and Pakistan are “losing the war against the Taliban … because we have lost the battle for hearts and minds." In a statement prior to a visit with the French Foreign Ministry and ahead of his British visit, Zardari added, "It is unfortunate that certain individuals continue to express doubts and fears about our determination to fight militants to the end…. Such fears will only weaken the international effort to fight militants and extremists."
Supporters of the visit say it is important for Zardari to mend fences with Cameron, bring home some aid (Britain today pledged nearly $10 million in flood assistance), and show that he is independent and not controlled by the whims of the Pakistani generals.