Asif Ali Zardari

Published Jan 13, 2011 10:00am

Introduction: Asif Ali Zardari, a former senator and federal minister, is the 11th and current President of Pakistan. Since the assassination of his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, he has been heading the largest political party of the country – the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). For this reason, he is one of the most important political figures in Pakistan today.

Biography: Asif Ali Zardari was born on July 25, 1955 in Karachi to a prominent Baloch family from Nawabshah, Sindh. He is the son of a former industrialist, politician and chief of the Zardari tribe, Hakim Ali Zardari who died of multiple organ failure on May 24, 2011. After his primary years at the Karachi Grammar School, Zardari joined Cadet College Petaro and also attended St. Patrick’s High School briefly. After graduation from Petaro in 1972, he went to London for higher studies.

Initially unsuccessful, Zardari later participated in politics with his late wife Benazir Bhutto. They were married on December 18, 1987 in a traditional wedding ceremony in Karachi. Under her government, he was given the portfolio of the federal minister twice, first for environment and later investment.

As a minister, he initiated the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline and was also the chief architect of the government’s efforts to encourage foreign investment in power generation. While remaining in office, Zardari even revolutionised telecommunications and expanded freedom of the media. Including the introduction of FM radio in the private sector, media networks like CNN and the BBC were granted broadcasting rights in Pakistan. Mobile telephone services too were introduced ahead of his initiative.

Upon dissolution of Bhutto’s second government, he was arrested on November 4, 1996 on alleged corruption charges. After serving eight years in prison, Zardari was released on bail by a court order in November 2004. Soon, he left for Dubai, returning after three years in late 2007 after Bhutto’s assassination in a political rally on 27th December, 2007 at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi.

Subsequent to his approval as the co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on December 30, 2007, Zardari was elected as the President of Pakistan on September 6, 2008 with an over whelming majority. He replaced General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and since then, has remained in the frontlines of Pakistani politics.

As President: Since September 2008, Zardari has reigned over one of the most fragile countries of the world; a country where militants have mushroomed, economic meltdown is quite inevitable and severe political instability has threatened the very foundations of the country.

  • Under his presidency, deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was reinstated to his office on March 21, 2009.
  • He initiated the Aghaaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan movement in November 2009, entailing several measures and initiatives to address the problems encountered by Balochis. He also worked hard to encourage the Balochis to enter mainstream politics.
  • In November 2009, he ceded the Chairmanship of National Command Authority to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani.
  • Under his leadership, the seventh National Finance Corporation (NFC) award was agreed upon unanimously by all the participants. Moreover, with the approval of the 18th constitutional amendment, he surrendered his right to dissolve the parliament, as a president; Article 58 2b.
  • In 2011’s Nato attacks on the Pakistani soil, his government undertook measures to denounce the hostilities and atrocities faced by Pakistanis at the hands of Nato forces. This instigated Pakistan to boycott the Bonn conference which was held in Germany.
Controversies: Before Benazir Bhutto’s untimely demise, Zardari was kept out of the political circles due to his negative public image, during the national election campaign in February 2008.

He was imprisoned for several years on charges of corruption and was allegedly called Mr 10 per cent.

In 1990, he was accused of tying a remote controlled bomb to a businessman’s leg and sending him off to the bank in order to withdraw cash from his account. However, these charges remained unproven. Later on Pakistan People’s Party accused the ruling government to portray Zardari’s image in a negative light, to tarnish Bhutto’s image.

In 1993, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan terminated Nawaz Sharif’s government and Zardari was taken to the presidency to be sworn in as a minister in the interim government.

Later on, he was charged and convicted in the kickbacks scam pertaining to a Swiss company. However, the trial was declared to be flawed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan which raised many issues over the verdict of the accountability bureau and the jury involved in the trial.

He claims to have been tortured whilst his imprisonment in Karachi and was released in 2004 when General Musharraf initiated negotiations with Bhutto.

Introduction:

Asif Ali Zardari, a former senator and federal Minister, is the 11th and current President of Pakistan. Since the assassination of his wife and former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, he is heading the largest political group of the country; Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). For this reason, he is one of the most important political figures in Pakistan today.

Biography:

Asif Ali Zardari was born on July 25, 1955 in Karachi, to a prominent Baloch family from Nawabshah, Sindh. He is the son of a former industrialist, politician and chief of the Zardari tribe, Hakim Ali Zardari who died of multiple organ failure on May 24, 2011. After his primary years at the Karachi Grammar School, Zardari joined Cadet College Petaro and also attended St. Patrick’s high school briefly. After graduation from Petaro in 1972, he went to London for higher studies.

Initially unsuccessful, Zardari later participated in politics with his late wife, Benazir Bhutto. They were married on December 18, 1987 in a traditional wedding ceremony in Karachi. Under her government, he was given the portfolio of the federal minister twice; first for environment and later investment. As a minister, he initiated the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline and was also the chief architect of the government’s efforts to encourage foreign investment in power generation. While remaining in office, Zardari even revolutionised telecommunications and expanded freedom of the media. Including the introduction of FM radio in the private sector, media networks like CNN and the BBC were granted broadcasting rights in Pakistan. Mobile telephone services too were introduced ahead of his initiative.

Upon dissolution of Bhutto’s second government, he was arrested on November 4, 1996 on alleged corruption charges. After serving eight years in prison, Zardari was released on bail by a court order in November 2004. Soon, he left for Dubai, returning after three years in late 2007 after Bhutto’s assassination in a political rally on 27th December, 2007 at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi.

Subsequent to his approval as the co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on December 30, 2007, Zardari was elected as the President of Pakistan on September 6, 2008 with an over whelming majority. He replaced General (retd) Parvez Musharraf and since then, has remained in the frontlines of Pakistani politics.

As President:

Since September 2008, Mr. Zardari has reigned over one of the most fragile countries of the world; a country where militants have mushroomed, economic meltdown is quite inevitable and severe political instability has threatened the very foundations of the country.

·Under his presidency, deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was reinstated to his office on March 21, 2009.

·He initiated the Aghaaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan movement in November 2009, entailing several measures and initiatives to address the problems encountered by Balochis. He also worked hard to encourage the Balochis to enter mainstream politics.

·In November 2009, he ceded the Chairmanship of National Command Authority to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani.

·Under his leadership, the seventh National Finance Corporation (NFC) award was agreed upon unanimously by all the participants. Moreover, with the approval of the 18th constitutional amendment, he surrendered his right to dissolve the parliament, as a president; Article 58 2b.

·In 2011’s NATO attacks on the Pakistani soil, his government undertook measures to denounce the hostilities and atrocities faced by Pakistanis at the hands of NATO forces. This instigated Pakistan to boycott the Bonn conference which was held in Germany.

Controversies:

Before Benazir Bhutto’s untimely demise, Mr. Zardari was kept out of the political circles due to his negative public image, during the national election campaign in February 2008.

He was imprisoned for several years on charges of corruption and was allegedly called Mr. 10 per cent. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4032997.stm

In 1990, he was accused of tying a remote controlled bomb to a businessman’s leg and sending him off to the bank in order to withdraw cash from his account. However, these charges remained unproven. Later on Pakistan People’s Party accused the ruling government to portray Mr. Zardari’s image in a negative light, to tarnish Ms. Bhutto’s image. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4032997.stm)

In 1993, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan terminated Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s government and Mr. Zardari was taken to the presidency to be sworn in as a minister in the interim government.

Later on, he was charged and convicted in the kickbacks scam pertaining to a Swiss company. However, the trial was declared to be flawed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan which raised many issues over the verdict of the accountability bureau and the jury involved in the trial.

He claims to have been tortured whilst his imprisonment in Karachi and was released in 2004 when General Musharraf initiated negotiations with Ms. Bhutto.


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