When Aziz was ‘stared down’ by Rice

21 May 2007


ISLAMABAD, May 20: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has been mentioned in rather uncharitable terms in US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s biography according to which when he tried to charm Dr Rice on her first trip to Pakistan in 2005, she “stared him down”.

The book titled: `Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power’ by Newsweek Chief of Correspondents and Senior Editor Marcus Mabry has been recently launched in the United States.

Although the biography has been written by an independent journalist, the adjectives used for an incumbent prime minister appear to be unprecedented in their harshness.

Referring to Ms Rice’s first trip to South Asia in March 2005 during which she also visited Pakistan, the author writes: “Yet, when Rice sat down with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who fancied himself a ladies’ man, Aziz puffed himself up and held forth in what he obviously thought was his seductive baritone. (He bragged – to Western diplomats, no less – that he could conquer any woman in two minutes.)

“(He tried) this Savile Row-suited gigolo kind of charm: `Pakistan is a country of rich traditions,’ staring in (Rice’s) eyes,” a participant at the meeting recalled.

“There was this test of wills where he was trying to use all his charms on her as a woman, and she just basically stared him down. By the end of the meeting, he was babbling.”

“The Pakistanis were shifting uncomfortably. And his voice visibly changed.” Some of the foreign men, the American official said, “They don’t get it …She has a really strong will, and I think people sometimes ‘misunderestimate’ her.”

There are also references to President Gen Pervez Musharraf in the book and how Ms Rice on her first trip to the region had serious items on her agenda, including “Pakistan’s weak efforts to root out the Taliban and Al Qaeda”.

“Then there were perpetual Pakistan-India tensions with Pakistan being a nuclear power that faced its own radical Islamists, as well as having its own ‘freedom deficit’, General Pervez Musharraf having come to power in a coup before being elected in widely boycotted elections.”

The author also mentions that Ms Rice had telephoned President Musharraf to explain that Washington was signing a new nuclear pact with India.

“The deal with Delhi, like Washington’s limited moves to stop the killing in Darfur, was a profoundly realist accommodation to the world as it was (the reality of a nuclear India) rather than as it should be (the ideal of non-proliferation.),” notes the author.