The après moi le déluge routine
President Asif Zardari wants the world to bail Pakistan out—financially to the tune of US$100 billon—because, if he fails, Pakistan with its arsenal of 200 nuclear warheads could be toppled by al-Qaeda and its allies.
A remarkably familiar pitch it is. Until a few months ago, it was General Musharraf who was standing between Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and their takover by al-Qaeda radicals.
Well the truth is that bit about nuclear warheads is generally scare-mongering. So is that bit about al-Qaeda toppling governments (the slick, smooth-talking General Musharraf has been replaced by the slick, smooth-talking Mr Zardari). But the bit about a political crisis in Pakistan spilling over and causing problems for other countries is largely true.
To be fair to Mr Zardari, it is true that he is saying altogether new things, of a kind we’ve never heard from a Pakistani president or prime minister before. The questions are whether he really means it (he probably does) and whether that means anything (that’s the US$100 billion question).