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May 13, 2008

Wikipedia: Asif Ali Zardari

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Asif Ali Zardari
آصف علی زرداری
Asif Ali Zardari

Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
30 December 2007
Serving with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Preceded by Benazir Bhutto

Born 21 July 1956 (1956-07-21) (age 51)
Karachi, Pakistan[1]
Nationality Pakistani
Political party Pakistan Peoples Party
Spouse Benazir Bhutto (d. 2007)
Children Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari
Asifa Bhutto Zardari
Residence Zardari House,Islamabad.
Religion Shia Islam
Website PPP website

Asif Ali Zardari (Urdu: آصف علی زرداری) (Sindhi: آصف علي زرداري) (born 21 July 1956) is a Pakistani politician and the Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). He is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who twice served as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Contents

Early life and family

Zardari is the son of a Pakistani industrialist Hakim Ali Zardari as well as the chief of the Zardari tribe, a Baloch tribe from Sindh. Zardari did most of his schooling from Saint Patrick’s Hiigh School, Karachi, also President Pervez Musharraf’s alma mater.He married Benazir Bhutto on 18 December 1987. They have three children: Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Asifa.

Member of National Assembly

Asif served as a member of the National Assembly, and as Environment Minister during the second term of his wife’s premiership. His last position in the government of Pakistan was as a senator until 1999 when the senate and assemblies were dissolved by Gen. Pervez Musharraf who took over the reins of the government in a coup against the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Corruption charges and trial

He has been given the nickname “Mr. Ten Percent” by the media and other Pakistani figures because of the alleged 10% extortion he forced on people during the PPP governments.[citation needed]

In 1990, Zardari was arrested on charges of blackmail, based on allegations that he attached a bomb to a Pakistani businessman, Murtaza Bukhari, and forced him to withdraw money from his bank account.[1] However, the charges were dropped when he was released from prison in 1993 when his wife’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took power and forced the charges out.

Zardari was made the Environment Minister during Bhutto’s tenure.

As Minister, he was accused of taking unaccounted millions of Rupees from local Pakistani banks for forestation of Pakistan.

During that period he claimed in a televised news conference that every school in Pakistan has an Environment & Forestry department which motivates every student to plant one tree.

Asif Ali Zardari also maintained a polo ground in Islamabad.

He was kept in custody from 1997 to 2004 on charges ranging from corruption to murder. He was granted bail and released in November 2004 when a judge said the cases were all false, although allegations of pressure on the judge have also been made.[2] However, he was re-arrested on 21 December 2004 after his failure to attend a hearing in a murder trial in Karachi.

Soon after the conviction, audiotapes of conversations between the judge and some top aides of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were discovered that showed that the judge had been under pressure to convict.

Zardari is currently living in Manhattan but also has a home in Dubai. He is suffering from diabetes, a spinal ailment, and heart trouble.

In August 2004, Zardari finally admitted owning a £4.35m estate in Surrey, England (including a 20-room mansion and two farms on 365 acres, or 1.5 km², of land), which the Pakistani authorities allege was bought with the proceeds of corruption. He and his family had long denied ownership of such property in the United Kingdom. Legal proceedings brought by the Government of Pakistan against Zardari to recover the sale proceeds of the property are continuing before the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. In October 2006, the court dismissed Zardari’s application to halt the proceedings on the basis that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. As of late 2007, Zardari is seeking permission to appeal that decision.

Zardari has spent a total of 11 years in prison. He says that the charges are politically motivated. Throughout this time, Zardari’s lawyer has been Farooq H. Naek who has played a major role in his release.

A Swiss investigating magistrate has amassed enough evidence, including the purchase of a diamond necklace, to indict Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto and husband on money-laundering charges tied to contracts with two Geneva-based companies. The magistrate, Daniel Devaud, decided not to bring the charges against Ms. Bhutto in Switzerland, but rather to ask Pakistani authorities to indict her. The Geneva magistrate has been conducting a wide-ranging inquiry seeking to account for more than $13.7 million frozen by Swiss authorities in 2006.

The money was allegedly stashed in Swiss banks.[3] The public proceedings were required to be dropped against Bhutto due to her death; however, the proceedings are still continuing against Zardari as of late December 2007.[4]

After eight years in exile in Dubai and London, his wife Benazir returned to Karachi on 18 October 2007, to prepare for the 2008 general election.

Co-chairman of the PPP

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on 27 December 2007. On 30 December 2007, Asif Ali Zardari was selected to co-chair the PPP with his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.[5].

After being elected co-chairperson of the PPP, he campaigned in various parts of Pakistan ahead of the February 2008 election. This included campaigning alongside Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N).

After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Mr.Zardari has reaffirmed his position of disintest in holding the position of Prime Minister of Pakistan[6][7].

After the election, he called for a government of national unity — but failed to say how it would work with President Pervez Musharraf.[8]. Asif Ali Zardari and former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on February 21, 2008 that their parties would work together in the national parliament after scoring big wins in the election.[9] On 5th March 2008 Mr Zardairi was cleared of 5 corruption charges, including corruption and illegal use of property. Mr Zardari is preparing to be able to be leader his newly elected PPP-PML-N government and will face another trial to clear him of his remaining charges on March 25th after the case was postponed until 12 April 2008 where he was cleared of all charges and then on 19 April 2008 Zaradari announced in a press conference in London that he and his sister would participate in the by-elections taking place on 3rd June and that if need be he would contest to become the country’s next Prime Minister, even though his party voted 2/3 majority to announce that Yousaf Raza Gillani would be the PM for a five year term.

See also

  • Azra Peechoho
  • Hakim Ali Zardari
  • Faryal Talpur
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