Washington: For years President Pervez Musharraf had no stronger supporter than President Bush who valued his assistance in fighting Al Qaida in the years after the September 11 2001 attacks. But as Musharraf's political standing began to crumble the White House refused to throw him a lifeline.
The administration purposely kept to the side as political rivals began to debate Musharraf's impeachment making no move to support him according to one senior State Department official.
When US officials heard rumours that Musharraf was considering dismissing the parliament and invoking emergency powers the embassy in Islamabad contacted senior members of the army and made it clear the United States opposed such an action.
The US posture was hardly grounded in enthusiasm over the capabilities of the civilian government.
But after seven years of unstinting support including more than $10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) in US assistance since the 2001 attacks the Bush administration finally concluded - too late in the view of its critics - that time was up for Musharraf.
"If the US had tried could it have in any way saved Musharraf? The answer is no" said another senior administration official who was not authorised to talk on the record.
"Certain folks hung onto him" said a US State Department official involved in Pakistan policy. "They were attached not to the man" the official said but to the fact that dealing with a single person was much easier than a coalition.
"They continued to see him as a factor for stability way beyond what made sense" said Teresita Schaffer a former ambassador and director of the South Asian programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
"It's been a balancing act and not always calibrated to best effect" said Daniel S. Maraaa a former State Department official.
US was prepared
Despite the hope in some quarters that Musharraf could remain in his job Bush administration officials said on Monday that they had been gradually preparing for his departure. "We're confident that we will maintain a good relationship with the government of Pakistan" White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters in Crawford Texas.
Michael J. Green former top Asia official at the White House who is now at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies predicted that the US will miss Musharraf. "You could count on him to make tough decisions even though you could never count on him to completely follow through" he said.