Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari. — File Photo
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to leave Pakistan to stay abroad for an indefinite period after his retirement on September 8.

Sources close to the president told Dawn.com that his friends advised him to stay away given serious threats to his life. President Zardari has already told his associates he will not contest the next presidential elections. “And why should he? We are not even having a candidate to run for the office of president,” presidential spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said.

The balance of power drastically shifted in favor of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after the May 11 general elections. Under Article 41(3), the Electoral College for the president comprises the Senate, National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies. The PML-N enjoys an absolute majority in the electoral college.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Sharmila Faruqi expressed ignorance about the future plans of the president. The presidential spokesperson did not respond to queries about the speculation either.

However, according to sources, the assassination of the president’s chief security officer Bilal Sheikh was a wake up call for President Zardari and his family – once the security layers around them are not intact post-retirement, they could be in an extremely vulnerable position.

Sheikh himself is not the first high profile security officer of the Bhutto himself to be killed. Previously, Khalid Shahenshah, the Bilawal House chief security officer, was killed outside his residence in 2008. In 2011, Imran Jangi, another prominent security officer of the Bhutto family was gunned down in Karachi.

For many, it seems like a natural conclusion. “Look at the president’s public appearances in the last five years. Very rare. He prefers to live in his bunker. Now after losing all presidential privileges he will not stay in Pakistan,” commented a former People’s Party (PPP) leader who requested not to be named.

After assuming office President Zardari faced serious threats to his life – so much so he refused to undergo medical treatment in any hospital in Pakistan. In December 2011, he had a minor heart attack but preferred to be treated in a hospital in Dubai. The then Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had confirmed that the decision was taken on security grounds.

Recently, a palatial bombproof Bilawal House was built in Lahore to enable his secure stay in the provincial capital. In Karachi, layers of security remain in place around Bilawal House whenever he visits the coastal city.

Corruption cases

However, analysts believe the security concerns are not the only reason for President Zardari’s expected post-retirement departure.

Another core reason, the sources said, was the hanging sword of different corruption cases. The Supreme Court already heard a case of reopening Swiss cases pending against him.

The legal aides of President Zardari are aware that presidential immunity will not be available for their client post-September 8. “The immunity under the constitution is not for the person but for the constitutional office that the president is holding so he has immunity until he is in the office of the president,” Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan explained.

A Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) insider said that President Zardari will be ‘remote controlling’ the party from abroad. Meanwhile, he intends to let his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari take full control of the party.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Syed Khurshid Shah, said the government would be committing a mistake if it reopened ‘baseless and fabricated corruption cases’ against President Zardari.

Senior Supreme Court Advocate, Senator SM Zafar, explained that President Zardari would lose the immunity the day a new president takes oath. “He is retiring on September 8. But he will not lose immunity on September 8. He will only become an ordinary citizen once a new president is in office,” he told Dawn.com.

He predicted President Zardari would leave the country before the day of losing his presidential immunity. Once he loses the immunity the government would be at liberty to reopen corruption and other cases against him, he said.

Zafar pointed out the actions which President Zardari undertook in his official capacity might continue to have immunity. “There is a solid argument that all his actions or decisions as President cannot be questioned in any court of law. This is debatable, which the courts may interpret if need arises. But anything pending against him prior to becoming the president is open for litigation,” he explained.

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Comments (77) (Closed)


Ravian
Jul 13, 2013 03:30pm

No. He will not stay in Pakistan. In fact he has already left Pakistan and may, (just MAY) return for a while (and unannounced) for handing over if required by law. He has achieved the maximum (thanks to that fake 'will') in terms of status and money (even his cronies like Gilani and Raja Rental are now billionaires now). While I condole the death of his security officer the incident has got the country rid of this utterly corrupt and coward person for good.

Salah Uddin
Jul 13, 2013 03:46pm

Our political leadership should learn a lesson from this. Why to rule a country where you cant live post-retirement? In other words, it is due to the mess created in the shape of deteriorated security situation by tuning to the dances of foreign powers instead of listening to the public cry, widespread corruption at all levels of government, and showing indifference to the people you rule over. And dont forget taliban are everywhere now! They opened an office in Qatar. Do you think they became peace-loving people by moving into the Arab countries? So, watch out Mr. President.

FAISAL SHEHZAD
Jul 13, 2013 03:49pm

he will never stay in Pakistan. Bhag jae ga retirement sa pehla

s.s.verma
Jul 13, 2013 04:00pm

Why should President Zardari stay in Pakistan? As a statesman he belongs to the world.:)

My View
Jul 13, 2013 04:01pm

Why would anyone make property in France and Britain and live in Pakistan?

sabeeh omer
Jul 13, 2013 04:15pm

Is Zardari's SECURITY the ONLY CONCERN? Or, is he afraid to be held accountable for any activity in the garb of President that he may have done during these five years?

aisha
Jul 13, 2013 05:49pm

Lucky guy. Will get to travel the world with no problems of money or anything else. What one would give to be him.

Sridhar
Jul 13, 2013 06:04pm

Name one other country in the world which has produced more presidents and prime ministers who have sought to live outside the country they led, whenever out of power? Was Samuel Johnson up to something when he purportedly said: "patriotism is the last resort of scoundrels"?

Iqbal
Jul 13, 2013 06:05pm

@My View: To make more properties in France and Britain.

A. Khan
Jul 13, 2013 06:34pm

The only good place for him is a jail. Forget the previous cases, what PPP has done to Pakistan in last 5 years is good enough for me to throw the entire party into jail.

ashok
Jul 13, 2013 06:47pm

May be he can start an advance institute of "Art of political management" in N.Delhi.

Azhar Hussain
Jul 13, 2013 06:52pm

Only if Dubai becomes part of Pakistan, and that is not going to happen anytime soon. So our dear President will move on....if you get my drift.

Ebrahim
Jul 13, 2013 07:16pm

It is more for the court cases that Zardari will not stay in the Country. Security is of secondary consideration - the Boundary walls around Bilawal House is so high that it is difficult for anyone to go through and access the premises. There should be some provision in the Constitution that for x number of years the President not allowed to leave the Country but write his memoirs during Presidency.

Ebrahim
Jul 13, 2013 08:50pm

@My View: What about his properties in Pakistan? Although he did not make them but gifted against some consideration!

TKhan
Jul 13, 2013 08:52pm

I have three words for you; Exit Control List! No free State Visits for him anywhere outside Pakistan till he clears his name.

ordinary_citizen
Jul 13, 2013 09:07pm

Dear fellow Pakistanis do not be disappointed or surprised. For most of our leadership Pakistan is purely a "land of opportunities". They prefer to leave the land when opportunities dry out and run their money minting operations remotely. I think a qualified mentor for Mr. Zardari will be Mr. Altaf Hussain as he has good experience in successfully running such operations.

On another note to bring modernity to our political set up we should trademark names like Bhutto, Sharif, Altaf Hussain etc like McDonalds or Walmart. I think they are at least at the same level in terms of generating profit decade after decade and providing comfortable life styles to the pioneers of these brands. Next step maybe registration of these at KSE for public trading :-)

shan
Jul 13, 2013 09:19pm

@s.s.verma: statesman Asif Zardari ? Verma I do appreciate your sense of humour ! ! !

Amir
Jul 13, 2013 09:45pm

No, he is not going to stay in Pakistan. He should be brought back to Pakistan and tried like his predecessor. This man has more sins and crimes than the previous president ! I am afraid he is going to be protected by Nawaz Sharif !

Modi
Jul 13, 2013 09:52pm

@s.s.verma: good joke !

Modi
Jul 13, 2013 09:52pm

@s.s.verma: good joke

Modi
Jul 13, 2013 09:53pm

good joke Verma!

Karachi Wala
Jul 13, 2013 10:04pm

@s.s.verma: "Why should President Zardari stay in Pakistan? As a statesman he belongs to the world.:)"

I am not sure whether President Zardari should stay or leave Pakistan but, I must applaud your unique way of thinking.

Tahir A
Jul 13, 2013 10:20pm

In my opinion, he has been the best president that Pakistan ever had. Astute, cocky and well dressed. He did not have to loot much this time since he already had a high enough portfolio of savings bulging at the seams.

The best part was that during his tenure he was exceedingly quiet, polite and in personal life did not even get married again "officially".

God bless you Asif.

shah
Jul 13, 2013 11:18pm

I feel ashame calling him president. He along with other politicians is a robber to this country. If he stays there he needs an army to protect him after killing so many innocent people to become billionaire.

Ali
Jul 13, 2013 11:34pm

Thanks to Pakistan's corrupt judiciary, Zardari can do blunt corruption and live luxuriously because until Iftikhar Chaudhry is there he makes sure no rich person goes to jail. Today, Pakistani jails are full of only poor people, those who can't afford to give gifts to Arsalan Iftikhar

Indusonian
Jul 13, 2013 11:40pm

Off course not. What he has to do with Pakistan ? whether present or future. He would live to live only in Pakistan if offered this post again.

raj
Jul 14, 2013 12:20am

Put his name on ECL and try him for all his cases and make an example out of him.

qaiser Sheriff
Jul 14, 2013 01:11am

You rule a country and cannot stay after the office, I salute to Mussharaf who came back to live here.

Pervaiz Waraich
Jul 14, 2013 02:08am

these are so called leaders of the country who even do not want to stay in the country who they belong

SM
Jul 14, 2013 02:11am

That would be the last nail in PPP's casket, I must say. He should stay in Pakistan and work with Sindh. Otherwise, it would PMLN vs PTI in 2018.

sattar rind
Jul 14, 2013 03:50am

it seems he will not stay in Pakistan. he left no hope to return in power than why he stay. besides he enjoyed extreme power that is not coming back due to his leadership. while Bilawal also as it seems has no interest in politics. only luck could support and back him in power but even for that he has to wait ....

Ohsama
Jul 14, 2013 03:54am

He will be more safe in India than in his own country, and be convenient for him to go back and forth!!! You want to try?

Moeen
Jul 14, 2013 04:03am

Probably the only country in the world where you screw it first and then when you are done you go and live abroad !!!

Khan
Jul 14, 2013 04:50am

Who cares wherever he goes. I only care about the looted Pakistani stuff that will leave with him if not already gone.

malick
Jul 14, 2013 04:59am

@sabeeh omer: Yes the only security reasons and Zardari should self exile and come back for next term rule. Zardari is never afraid of any accountability. 10 + 5 = 15 years accountability he has faced no Court proved him guilty. Zardari never took money from any Ishaque to steel election alike Nawaz.

L Ahmad
Jul 14, 2013 07:11am

Security is a threat for every ordinary citizen who does not have the privilege of 'bomb proof Bilawal House’, layers of security around the clock and ownership of properties in foreign countries. Cut and run seems to be the only option for this lame president.

Agha Ata
Jul 14, 2013 07:30am

Pakistan is Zardari's work place. Have you ever heard of anyone who lives at his work place? They all go home after work. Don't they?

SHYAM LAL DADHICHI
Jul 14, 2013 09:46am

Irrespective of charges against him, President Zardari has a place in history of Pakistan. His service to democracy to the nation will be remembered. Despite heavy odds, he survived in Office and supervised transformation of one democratic Government to Other even if it was not his Party's Government. Being ex President of Pakistan, post retirement, he deserved to live in peace and dignity.

Simon
Jul 14, 2013 10:35am

@s.s.verma: Sure, he will be the next president of India.

Tahir
Jul 14, 2013 11:49am

@s.s.verma: Man you are funny

arju
Jul 14, 2013 01:48pm

How can he have properties in foreign countries? He did not work in a foreign country so he has not earned to make a property in London or anywhere. May he will claim that these properties are because of our eternal beneficiaries, Saudis and Abu Dhabians. Anyone even with little brains can understand that these properties are made with corruption money. So he will go and enjoy the loot for his whole life! I wish him to pay for his corruption, he should have all legal options available for his defence but if found guilty after due process, must remain behind bars. But this is a wish, and who cares for wishes of a common pakistani?

Israr Khan IsmailZai
Jul 14, 2013 02:04pm

Alas! Such is the fate of my unfortunate Pakistan.

Naseem
Jul 14, 2013 02:51pm

@s.s.verma: LOL.Zardari a statesman. Wake up boy and give ONLY example of him giving one good statement.

Naseem
Jul 14, 2013 02:55pm

Zardari will never ever come back to Pakistan. Good riddance

shado
Jul 14, 2013 03:06pm

After his term, Mr. Zardari should be tried as same as Musharraf .. Atleast full investigation on hussain huqqani and his source and money laundering issue.

malik
Jul 14, 2013 03:25pm

All malicious drama of security threats will be beaten and he left the country just because he does not want to be convicted and face charges of corruption against him , this is the pathetic type of ruling that stay when you are president or Pm and as soon your term ends leave

Syed Husain
Jul 14, 2013 04:04pm

What is the purpose of staying in Pakistan after retirement when all of his "well earned money" is invested overseas.

Gerry D'Cunha
Jul 14, 2013 04:32pm

zardari has lived in shame and fame - now it will be in his own interest to live a peaceful life abroad (dubai/london) and groom his children for the next fame as a grand-father

Tariq
Jul 14, 2013 05:07pm

What a loser and a coward this guy can be. Robbed the nation for so many years and now running away as he is scared of being a) slain and b) being prosecuted. He should definitely be tried even if he runs away as it is the country he has looted and ruined and he should be accountable by all means. Hope Nawaz will take some action but again he is no saint as too!

Masoud
Jul 14, 2013 05:58pm

The best thing for Asif Zardari to do is to return the plundered money, show remorse & ask for forgiveness from Allah & from the peoples of Pakistan. This course of action is also for other corrupt politicians & others. Life is too short to enjoy & celebrate with ill gotten wealth, remember the day is coming.

Riaz Ahmad
Jul 14, 2013 08:17pm

@Tariq: How can one corrupt hold another corrupt accountable in a corrupt country with a corrupt state and equally people.

Riaz Ahmad
Jul 14, 2013 08:19pm

@Gerry D'Cunha: He has not lived in shame and fame, he has lived in shame and notoriety.

Riaz Ahmad
Jul 14, 2013 08:20pm

@Naseem: Anything is possible in an incredibly corrupt country.

Riaz Ahmad
Jul 14, 2013 08:22pm

@arju: Corrupt people do not earn, the rob instead.

Riaz Ahmad
Jul 14, 2013 08:23pm

@malick: It is a case of birds of the feather, a corrupt man defending another corrupt man.

athar
Jul 14, 2013 08:27pm

PTI & PML (N) is the same face of two parties. There is no difference in this. They have same goal & objective. Both of them making fool to three provinces.

NASAH (USA)
Jul 14, 2013 10:45pm

Makes no difference regarding the usefulness of Mr. Zardari -- he was hiding as the president before September -- he will be hiding as an ex president after.

NASAH (USA)
Jul 14, 2013 10:57pm

@Masoud: So you want him to donate his hard earned commission of 60 million from Swiss bank to the Pakistan treasury under the current treasurer Nawaz Sharif?

Can he keep 10% of that for his act of charity?

Imran
Jul 14, 2013 11:28pm

I bet he feigns an heart ailment in the first week of September, and his Dubai pool of Royal Physicians advise him three weeks rest. Why the first week and not earlier, he still has to fill his coffers till the last moments.

Irfan khan
Jul 14, 2013 11:46pm

Unfortunately, Zardari, The President of Pakistan, is scared for his life because he has created a situation of unrest himself during the last five years.

It is not a secret that he has accumulated his wealth by NOT working hard but by working 'smart'. Now, for him to be saying, that his lif is in danger is something that almost look like 'pre-planned'

His, actual worry should be; a) where would he go to hide, b) If he would be safe even in a foreign country and most importantly, c) How is he going to prove his wealth was created and accumulated legally.

G.Nabi
Jul 15, 2013 01:44am

He will be remembered as 'invisible president'. 5 years he bunkered himself in the president house. Nation was n't sure where he was at particular moment.No one will forget those days when the whole country was devastated by floods, people were practically drowning and he was touring France, inspecting his chateau .

zahidh
Jul 15, 2013 03:01am

How can Pakistan afford to let people holding sensitive and top positions just walk out day after their departure from office. I believe there should be a clear no leaving country rule at the end of the service. That will be an incentive not to create a mess if you have to live in it, Not do any thing illegal because you could be brought in. Beside if the country is not safe for people to live in why was it safe for them to hold office in it.

Mohammed A Amsa
Jul 15, 2013 03:54am

@Masoud: Well, The repentance is not limited to just this one person. There are so many others in our politics who must be brought to justice. I know for sure that these criminals do not believe in the Day of Judgment, otherwise how could they be so callous and cold and do the things that they do. They think that the Day will never come that they will have to face their Lord and pay the price of their evil deeds.

Shahid Ali
Jul 15, 2013 05:13am

My impression about Pakistan is that the whole Pakistan is corrupt. During my visit to the country in 2011, I met people from different walks of life and didn’t find anyone sincere and honest in his or her daily life. They all talk about change and honesty. However, their practices are very much contrary what they talk about. God bless them!

Sharamsar
Jul 15, 2013 06:58am

This was expcted. He will run with his tail between his legs to save all the loot he stole from Pakistan. Security is just an excuse. The CJ will open the cases so far out of reach of the courts. They should ask the foreign banks to freeze all his accounts,till the cases are decided, as they do in other countries. But thats not going o happen and he will live in his palaces in Dubai and France. Sad.

SB
Jul 15, 2013 09:05am

Every Pakistani can and should file a law suite of One Million Dollar each, against Zardari, in the country where Zardari may settle. There is a good chance that the Western Courts will do some judgment against a person who has plundered the whole nation.

Sarfraz
Jul 15, 2013 10:30am

If AZ claims to be innocent, he should stay in Pakistan until his name is cleared by the SC. Or else he should return people's money, ask for forgiveness to the people of Pakistan. NS govt. will be responsible if AZ leaves the country without SC clearance.

Ghalib Khan
Jul 15, 2013 11:02am

Zardari will definitely run abroad, and will arrange a nice villa for Nawaz Shareef in his neighborhood.

Birds of same feather flock together,

It takes Courage and Guts like Pervaiz Musharraf to face trial when not in power.

Last week i was in Karachi, almost in every other sentence people used to mention how it was better in Musharraf time

Yousaf
Jul 15, 2013 11:48am

Day is not far when all of Pakistan's political parties will be run from London.

beam
Jul 15, 2013 11:51am

Zardari is a statesman who will become an estates man busy managing his estates all around the west. Trust me he will still hold the cards of PPP. Once he is done managing his estates, he will again become the president.

ezanius
Jul 15, 2013 12:48pm

@Tariq: well said dear, but loosers and cowards are all the citizens who let such people execute their satanic ambitions. Could any single person among the population of 20 billion, be able to stop him and inquire, NONE!

RZ
Jul 15, 2013 04:55pm

@Naseem: Comlplete quotation is "Good riddance to bad rubbish"

Jamshed Khan
Jul 15, 2013 05:35pm

Unlikely that he stays in the country. He will go abroad to consume his loot and will return in 5 years or so for another round.

Tahir
Jul 15, 2013 07:39pm

Judicial investigations should complete their course and if charges are to be laid he should be extradited back to Pakistan to face charges in court. New laws and legislation should be enacted by NA MP's to make it illegal for political party leaders to pass party leader positions to sons/daughters. Kingships should be made illegal for all political parties. PPP should democratically elect a new leader through it's member with potential leaders contesting their case by showing their skills and qualifications. Pakistan has a lot of educated talent and there many potential candidates to contest PPP party leadership.;

Bea
Jul 15, 2013 09:06pm

After hes ruined the country he should be arrested for corruption and threwn into jail.

syed shah
Jul 16, 2013 11:07am

Mr. Zardari must stay in Pakistan after his retirement. This way he will be able to clear his name in cases that are being attributed to him.. Otherwise, he may be declared a fujitive from justice.He will then never be able to come to Pakistan. His host countries may not grant him perpetual visa. I admire Generar Musharraf, who very wisely dered to come to Pakistan, answer to his accusers, and clear his name for ever. He has proved himself a true soldier,a true Pakistani, and as a very brave person. General, GOD be with you.

syed shah
Jul 16, 2013 11:36am

Mr.Zardari, you must stay in Pakistan and answer to all accusations and come clean. Otherwise you will be haunted all over the world and become a fujitive from justice.