Asif Ali Zardari

Asif Ali Zardari, Profiles of Pakistan Leaders, PAKISTANI LEADERS ONLINE
Former President
Islamic Republic Of Pakistan
Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians
Asif Ali Zardari

Asif Ali Zardari son of Hakim Ali Zardari is the 14th President of Pakistan. Benazir’s assassination has brought her husband Asif Zardari in the limelight. Having spent a great deal of time in jails and detention on account of politically motivated trials, Asif Zardari has probably gathered what it takes to be a resilient political worker. Currently, assisting his son ‘Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’ to help manage the affairs of Pakistan Peoples’ Party, he is indeed a major political figure today.

Repeated arrests and detentions have made him a controversial political figure. However, his spirits are high and in spite of his deteriorated health owing to the agonies of imprisonment, he is agile and active and committed to the cause of democracy.

Asif Ali Zardari, a father of three children: Bilawal, Bakhtwar and Asifa, was born on 21st of July, 1956 at Nawabshah. He is the son of a famous Pakistani industrialist Hakim Ali Zardari – clan head of the Zardari tribe. Asif Zardari is the widower of late former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whom he married on 18 December 1987.

His academic career at ‘Cadet College Petaro’ helped him in becoming a confident and well-groomed individual. After doing his graduation from Cadet College Petaro, he went to Pedinton School, London from where he specialized in Business & Economics.

He 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.

His political portfolio includes:

i. Member National Assembly 1990-93
ii. Member National Assembly 1993-96
iii. Federal Minister 1993
iv. Federal Minister 1995-96
v. Senator 1997 - 1999

Asif Ali Zardari was arrested on the night of 4th November 1996 from Lahore (Province of Punjab), upon dissolution of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto's government by Presidential order. He was held incommunicado for two days and on Habeous Corpus petition filed before Lahore High Court, the then regime disclosed he was detained under Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1961 for a period of thirty days.

However, before the hearing of the petition could take place, the government withdrew the detention order and Asif Ali Zardari was shifted to Karachi (Province of Sindh) on 27-11-96. On arrival he was arrested under fresh detention order passed under Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1961. The said fresh detention order was challenged before the Sindh High Court, Karachi, on 7th December 1996 which set aside the said order as being mala fide and illegal and ordered for his release on 18th December, 1996.

During this period, policemen present during the shooting of Mir Murtaza Bhutto and other officers were arrested and tortured to implicate Senator Zardari. Army personnel were involved in their interrogation contrary to law. Three investigative officers were replaced and two sub divisional magistrates changed when they refused to record statements repugnant to the law in the matter.

Army officials took the magistrates to the detention centers to record the statement, an illegal act as the case being criminal in nature fell out of army purview.

Pursuant to the order of the Sindh High Court Senator Zardari was released on 18th December 1996. He was re-arrested in Mir Murtaza Bhutto Murder case the moment he stepped out of the prison on 18th December, 1996.

Senator Zardari, after re-arrest, was shifted to Women's police station Karachi for one week. Here he was tortured through sleep deprivation for several days and made to stand for hours with a bright light shining into his eyes whilst he was interrogated. This damaged his eye sight as he had had an eye surgery six weeks earlier aside from the physical discomfort and mental disorientation.

At the Women's police station, Senator Zardari was interrogated by army personnel in contravention of the law. He was pressured to wrongly confess to his brother-in-law's murder which he refused proclaiming his innocence.

He was remanded to prison when the Magistrate refused to grant further police remand.

Since the dismissal of the PPP government, the army backed regimes made numerous false and concocted cases against Senator Zardari with malafide intentions and ulterior motives. It was feared that they wished to judicially murder Senator Zardari as some of these cases carried the death sentence.

Simultaneously, scores of bankers, businessmen, bureaucrats, family and personal staff were arrested, tortured and offered inducements to give perjured statements or face financial and personal ruin.

One conviction was obtained by the trial court in the Pre-Shipment matter in April 1999. That conviction was set aside by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in April 2001 which accepted the prayer that the trial court was biased.

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.

He has wide-ranging interests and loves horses among the animals.