Zardari’s a no-show at Obama’s speeches
In the midst of Qaddafi kicking up a delightful storm of words at the UN General Assembly meeting this week, and Iran’s recent declaration that they have an operational enrichment plant, came news that the Kerry-Lugar bill for economic assistance to Pakistan has been approved.
President Obama got word of the Senate vote on the bill during the middle of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting and according to Richard Holbrooke, it was the only moment of spontaneous applause in the meet. [Reuters] But what’s even more interesting is that while Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is in the US on taxpayers expense and asking the world for more aid (and his administration has been kicking up quite a fuss over the Kerry-Lugar bill), he doesn’t seem to have any interest in actually attending President Obama’s speeches. (But does enjoy asking for more money, y’know)
According to The News, Zardari missed the climate change conference and went off for a medical check-up to the Presbyterian Hospital, leaving his friend Dr. Asim Hussain in charge of representing the country.
The same afternoon, President Zardari attended the 5th annual conference of Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in a nearby hotel. More than 60 current and former heads of state/government and dozens of celebrities came to the conference. But President Zardari left before slightly delayed arrival of President Obama. In his speech at the CGI, Obama paid rich tribute to the brave people of Pakistan who are fighting against terrorism.
In the morning of September 23, areas around the United Nations were almost sealed by the New York police, FBI, US secret service and the UN security force for restricted entry to the UN. About 75 heads of state/government, hundreds of ministers, diplomats and officials were in New York. All were reminded to arrive early at the UN to join the UN General Assembly session, while President Obama addressed the UNGA. All the invitees reached on time but President Zardari remained absent from the session.
When asked for the reason for Zardari’s absence, Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told this correspondent that the president had his own engagements, and attending the UNGA on the day of US president’s speech is not mandatory for President Zardari. He said that it was not an important issue. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was there to lead Pakistani delegation at the UNGA. For the other two occasions of ignoring Obama speeches, he said President Zardari had more important engagements of his own.
Leave your thoughts on what his other important engagements could be in the comments section. Please be warned that you may be accused of thought crime.