President Zardari’s visit to the UK during Pakistan’s floods has sparked anger, but experts say the Pakistan People Party (PPP) will remain in power for years to come regardless of its leaders’ conduct.
Mr Zardari is under growing pressure to return to his country and lead the country’s response to devastating floods in northwest and central Pakistan which have killed up to 1500 people and affected over three million.
President Zardari, who arrived in Britain on Tuesday, will hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday and explain face-to-face Islamabad’s anger over Cameron’s claim last week that Pakistan promoted the “export of terror”.
Pakistan is holding an emergency cabinet meeting in a bid to speed up relief work following the devastating floods which washed away villages and ruined farmland in one of its poorest and volatile regions.
Mr Zardari’s unpopularity is growing but experts say the president is least bothered by reports of plummeting public support and he is not going to contest any election until 2014.
Whit Mason is the Project Director at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law Faculty of Law at the university the University of NSW.
He was Communications and Outreach Director for USAID in Pakistan and in 2008 was the UN’s Justice Coordinator for Southern Afghanistan.
He told SBS Mr Zardari’s popularity is already down to 76 per cent disapproval.
“People have wondered since he came into power how long he would last,” he said.
“He has never had any strong-basis support.
“He also doesn’t have the personality, or the skillls, or frankly the will to build up a new following as president so people have thought for years that it’s a matter of time and now he’s grooming his so Bilawal, who is the co-chairman of the PPP, to take over from him,” he said.
“The question for him it’s just when Bilawal will be ready to step into that role,” Mr Mason said.
“I think he won’t stand for re-election and Bilawal will take over as the sole chairman of the PPP.
Mr Mason says there are no real alternatives to the PPP’ rule in Pakistan.
“The problem is that there’s a certain percentage of Pakistanis who don’t demand alternatives.
“They are prepared to support anybody who is connected tot he Bhutto family, and that means Bilawal and Zardari”.
Some experts say Zardari is going to the UK to launch Bilawal as PPP chairman.
Mr Zardari is expected to continue as co-chairman, sister Faryal Talpur as chief of PPP women wing and the youth.