The government has denied that the president ever said such words and has reiterated how the elected civilian government is committed to press freedom and the welfare of journalists. The journalist who wrote the piece is standing by his story.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan is an extremely challenging environment for journalists to work in. The rising violence and threat to journalists' personal safety undermines whatever little press freedom is allowed by the country's many power centers. Insecure and authoritarian governments, as has mostly been the case in Pakistan's six-decade history, are wary of a vocal and critical press.
Many in Zardari's Pakistan People's Party believe that their leader is being targeted by the media because of his unpopular stance on antiterrorism cooperation with the United States and the West.
Those in the president's party feel that after the death of his charismatic wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Zardari played his role well by keeping the party together and leading it to an election victory. They feel that the press is out to destroy the president and thus bring down the government.
Al-Jazeera's English-language TV channel recently aired a documentary on Pakistan. Its message is clear: the West should try to understand rather than pressure Pakistan, if the country is to win its complicated struggle against extremism.
-- Abubakar Siddique