The biggest test of Asif Zardari, Benazir Bhutto’s widower and Pakistan’s new President, from the American and British point of view, is whether he will take on the Taleban and other Islamic militants. The anger rising in Pakistan at the military action by the United States on its western border may prompt him to be much less helpful than Britain and the US want.
The question is whether Zardari, prompted by the economic and military aid that he will need, will agree to continue. He may well not, because the US incursions are stirring up such hostility, and because the militants are now so strong. It may now be impossible for any Pakistani leader to crack down on the Taleban within Pakistan, one former Musharraf official said this week, because their support is so widespread.
You have to love the cold-bloodedness of the phrase "The anger rising in Pakistan at the military action by the United States on its western border may prompt him to be much less helpful than Britain and the US want.", as though somehow Pakistanis should be perfectly at peace with being attacked within the borders of their country.
Outrage is, and should be, normal at such an attack.
And what the US has done this last week is to give Zardari just a little "taste" of what he can expect if he doesn't deliver in terms of hitting Pakistani militants as hard as the US and NATO think he should be hitting them.
If Zardari doesn't give the US and NATO precisely what they want, look for the war against Pakistan to continue at breakneck speed.
That will be followed, as has happened so frequently here, with a military coup, and the installation of a puppet government completely subservient to Western interests, and very willing to take all the money and aid the West wants to hand it.