Wolf Blitzer, on Sunday's Late Edition interviewed Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari about his nation's involvement in the War On Terror, and specifically clashes over incursions into Pakistan by US troops. Zardari provided a lesson in glib lying which could be required viewing for a certain type of Western politician (step forward John McCain and Sarah Palin). Not a single "tell" was in evidence as 'Mr. Ten Percent' wildly spun to make himself and Pakistan sound all things to all presidential hopefuls.
Many thanks to Heather for the vids.
In the interview, Zardari claimed that the US was being "over-indulgent" (I think he meant over-zealous) in its incursions on Pakistani territory and appealed to the Bush administration just to "give us the intelligence" and that Pakistan would then do what was needed.
When asked about allegations from the US and other allies that elements in the Pakistani military and ISI intelligence agency shielded or aided some anti-US militant leaders, he said that was all in the past and that his government had full control of Pakistan's military. "Our democracy is trustworthy" he said. Yet in recent months, Zardari's government have tried at least three times to exert more authority over the shadowy ISI, and have had to climb down each time after pressure from the military. The ISI was directly accused of involvement in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul back in
On recent reports, from both Pakistani and American authorities, that Pakistani troops had fired on US helicopters at least once and perhaps as many as three times - completely in accord with military statements saying Pakistan would defend against incursions at 'all costs" and would unhestitatingly "open fire" - Zardari stuck to his own tale that "open fire" is just a warning and that "only flares" to warn US forces had been used.
(Later in the interview, Zardari also said that if Pakistan captured Bin Laden it would try him in Pakistan rather than extradite him for trial on 9/11 charges, before hurredly doing an about face when Blitzer pressed him on this matter.)
But the most fervent spin of all was when Zardari tried to square himself with Obama, in case the latter should become President. When asked about Obama's policy (the one that both Bush and Sarah Palin apparently agree with but John Mccain doesn't) that the US should act unilaterally inside Pakistan if it is unable or unwilling to take action of its own, he said:
ZARDARI: Senator Obama answers that, if the Pakistani authorities are unwilling, but in this case, Pakistani authorities and the president of Pakistan is more than willing.
BLITZER: Are you confident that you have control over all elements of the security forces, that you're all on the same page, as far as the United States and the war on terror is concerned?
ZARDARI: Most definitely.
All done with hardly a flicker. It's easy to see why Mr. Ten Percent is now one of the richest men in Pakistan without ever running an actual business. But if American leaders trust him at his very changeable word then caveat emptor.