Can Pakistan Be Governed?
James Traub, New York Times, March 31, 2009
TO ENTER the office where Asif Ali Zardari, the president of Pakistan, conducts his business, you head down a long corridor toward two wax statues of exceptionally tall soldiers, each in a long, white tunic with a glittering column of buttons. On closer inspection, these turn out to be actual humans who have been trained in the arts of immobility. The office they guard, though large, is not especially opulent or stupefying by the standards of such places. President Zardari met me just inside the doorway, then seated himself facing a widescreen TV displaying an image of fish swimming in a deep blue sea. His party spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, and his presidential spokesman, Farahnaz Ispahani, sat facing him, almost as rigid as the soldiers. Zardari is famous for straying off message and saying odd things or jumbling facts and figures. He is also famous for blaming his aides when things go wrong — and things have been going wrong quite a lot lately. Zardari’s aides didn’t want him to talk to me. Now they were tensely waiting for a mishap.
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