The officials and military leaders gave their damning assessment of Mr Zardari in the months following his election as president in September, 2008.
Sir Jock Stirrup, then Chief of the Defence Staff, told American diplomats that Pakistan was already in an “arguably worse” state a month after Mr Zardari’s election. He added that although the new president had “made helpful political noises, he’s clearly a numbskull”.
His comments were echoed by high-ranking British officials who said Mr Zardari had “not much sense of how to govern a country” and no goals beyond “hanging on to power”
A leaked record of the talks with US officials discloses that Sir Peter Ricketts, the permanent secretary to the Foreign Office and David Cameron’s national security adviser, said the British government “would like to believe in Zardari”, but added: “I fear he talks and talks but not much happens.”
Mr Zardari took over as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party from his estranged wife, the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, following her assassination in 2007.