Change Pakistanis Can’t Believe In

Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto’s widower, known as “Mr Ten Percent” for his penchant for demanding bribes, is in as next prime minister of Pakistan. It seems that he won’t be coming in with much of a mandate:

A survey by Gallup Pakistan showed a lack of enthusiasm for the presidential candidates, with 44 percent of the respondents saying that they did not approve of any of the candidates.

Mr. Zardari received a 26 percent approval rating in the poll, compared with 18 percent for Mr. Siddiqui, the candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-N.

The Times article says that as President Zardari “will have great powers, including the ability to dissolve Parliament and name the head of the Pakistani Army.” I’ve been told, however, by knowledgeable groups that it’s pretty doubtful the civilian president really could effectively boss the security services into doing anything they don’t want to do. And the fact that he won’t be coming in with any kind of overwhelming popularity seems to support the notion that in practice the Army will have a lot of leeway to do what it wants.