Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Mr. Zardari, the only elected Pakistani president ever to have completed a full term in office, told The Washington Times in an interview that Mr. Trump’s critics should not dismiss him out of hand but rather give him a chance to make his mark in the region, beset by conflicts in Afghanistan, jihadi terrorist movements and the increasingly tense Indian-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir.

“It’s too early,” Mr. Zardari said on the eve of Mr. Trump’s inauguration last week. “Wait for the first 90 days at least, and then we see how the cookie crumbles, or talks and walks.
“The man has managed to get a majority in states where it was never imagined that the Democrats could lose,” he said. “So how do we underestimate him?”

It’s a sobering question from a man whose own journey through politics might best be described as Shakespearean. Mr. Zardari spent 11 years in prison on corruption charges. It was in 2008 — just months after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, his wife of 20 years — that Mr. Zardari spearheaded a coalition that forced Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf from power before rising to the presidency in Islamabad.

Mr. Zardari filled a top-level suite at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in downtown Washington on Thursday with the charisma of a man who knows a thing or two about withstanding criticism and pursuing his own vision. His advice for Mr. Trump, he said, is simple: “[Do] what [President] Obama never did — Obama never had proper interaction with any Pakistani chief executive.”


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