Behind Obama’s snub of Pakistan

Bruce Riedel in The Daily Beast:

Zardari wants to reset relations with Washington as well. But his room for maneuver is very limited by the army and the parliament, which are demanding an apology for last November’s deaths and the end to the drone war. The jihadists just want to kill him. Now he has been snubbed by Obama, who would not meet with Zardari without a border deal. He got a session with Secretary Clinton instead.

Given how unpopular America and Obama are in Pakistan, a snub in Chicago may not hurt Zardari’s own abysmal approval rating. Maybe a deal can still be worked out to get the border open in the days ahead. But the imagery of Zardari failing will cast a long shadow.

Many in Pakistan believe NATO is bound to fail in Afghanistan. They read the polls and they noted that French President Francois Hollande has stood by his pledge to pull France’s Task Force Lafayette out of the country by the end of this year. Most European leaders would secretly like to do the same thing with their toops. So do many Americans. Pakistan can also veto any effort to start a political process between the Afghan Taliban and the Karzai government; after all the ISI controls the Taliban’s leadership which lives in Karachi. The army and the ISI will privately be very pleased that Zardari crashed in Chicago.

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