Predicting the fall of the government has been a popular parlor game in Pakistan. In some ways, this is to be expected – Pakistan has actually existed under military rule for more years than under democratic. But while it might not be surprising that political commentators default to rumors of coups and ‘caretaker’ governments, there is one group of Pakistan watchers that firmly believes the civilian government will not fall – the White House.
According to Bob Woodward’s new book, the Obama administration has made a strategic decision to support democracy in Pakistan for the long haul, reversing past approaches that saw support for military dictators as a way of achieving near-term goals.
But while the end of Zardari regime has often been predicted, it appears that he will remain in place for the foreseeable future. The Obama administration, meanwhile, is aware of how crucial his cooperation remains for the success of the mission in Afghanistan.
When Woodward sat down for his interview with Obama earlier this year, he asked the president if the situation was still that Pakistan is the centerpiece of the U.S. strategy. “It continues to this day,” Obama replied.
This comes shortly after statements by Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, that the US will only support a democratically elected civilian government, making it quite clear that the official US position is to support democracy in Pakistan.