ISLAMABAD, May 24: Hakim Ali Zardari, a veteran politician and father of President Asif Ali Zardari, died after a protracted illness at the intensive care unit of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) here on Tuesday. He was 81. A senior physician at Pims told Dawn that Hakim Zardari had died because of multiple organ failure. He had been on a ventilator for the past three months. He was brought to the hospital after he had suffered a brain haemorrhage at his residence in Islamabad.
He left behind a son and two daughters -- MNAs Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and Faryal Talpur.
Soon after the news of his death, a number of PPP leaders and workers reached the hospital to offer condolences to his family, particularly Dr Azra. His body was later taken to his native town of Nawabshah in a C-130 plane.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, who accompanied the body, told Dawn by telephone that all family members, including President Zardari, had already arrived in Nawabshah. He said that because of security concerns the exact time of funeral would be announced on Wednesday morning.
According to hospital sources, President Zardari was constantly in touch with the physicians of a medical board to keep himself updated on the condition of his father. However, he could not see his ailing father in the hospital because of security reasons.
The body of Hakim Zardari arrived in Nawabshah at about 7pm on Tuesday. It was later taken to the Zardari House.
According to sources, the funeral will be held at 5 O’clock on Wednesday morning and he will be buried at his ancestral graveyard Baalu-Ja-Qubba, some 10km from Nawabshah.
APP adds: Hakim Ali Zardari was born into a landlord family in 1930 in the village of Fatohal Zardari in Nawabshah. He received his initial education in a mosque school of the village and completed matriculation from DC High School in Nawabshah. He continued his education in reputed educational institutions of Hyderabad and Karachi.
Hakim Zardari built cinema houses in Hyderabad and Karachi, worked as a film distributor and also produced a Sindhi film, ‘Soorat’.
He started his political career in 1965 when he was elected member of the Nawabshah District Council and later its vice-president.
During the presidential election in 1965, Hakim Zardari supported Fatima Jinnah against General Ayub Khan. He joined the Pakistan People’s Party in 1970 as one of its founding members. He was a close companion of former prime minister and PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Hakim Zardari was elected head of the Zardari tribe in 1970. He was elected member of the National Assembly in 1970, 1988 and 1993.