After his visit to Afghanistan (where CentreRight contributor and TA soldier Lee Rotherham is serving) David Cameron arrives in Pakistan today for talks with political leaders.
It is very timely that the Conservative leader is making this visit. He visits a very troubled nation. Richard Holbrooke and the New York Times have argued that Pakistan was George W Bush’s biggest foreign policy failure:
"It is increasingly clear that the Bush administration will leave office with Al Qaeda having successfully relocated its base from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s tribal areas, where it has rebuilt much of its ability to attack from the region and broadcast its messages to militants across the world." Nothing — not even Iraq — represents a greater policy failure for the outgoing administration."
It’s hard to disagree with that judgment and to be optimistic about the near future.
Benazir Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is expected to become the nation’s president on Saturday, succeeding Pervez Musharraf. Bret Stephens introduced Mr Zardadi to Wall Street Journal readers yesterday:
- Known as "Mr 10%" he was found guilty in 2003 of laundering $10m.
- He owns a 3555 acre estate near London although he has never earned any large amounts of money (legally).
- In return for support from an extremist political party for his presidential bid he helped to engineer an end to the Pakistan military’s bombing of Taliban positions.
Mr Stephens also quotes a June poll that found that 71% of Pakistanis oppose cooperating with the USA in counterterrorism. 51% oppose fighting the Taliban at all. Britain – and its next PM – may have an important role in ensuring that Pakistan remains an ally in the war on terror. In his maiden post for CentreRight, Suli Shah made the case for the UK leading international action plan that would see significant economic, military and intelligence assistance for Pakistan. Suli’s post is worth reading again.