Asif Ali Zardari

Asif Ali Zardari is the chief of the Zardari tribe and the husband of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. 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.

Candidate's Party Affiliation
Introduction

Asif Ali Zardari is the chief of the Zardari tribe and the husband of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. 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.

History and Background

In 1990, he 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 . However, the charges were not proven and he was released from prison in 1993 when Pakistan People's Party took power. During the final days of his wife’s second premiership, just before her government was dissolved by the then president, Farooq Leghari, his brother in law Murtaza Bhutto was assassinated. He was subsequently arrested on murder charges in 1996. The verdict was set aside following a major scandal, when audio tapes titled 'murdering justice' were revealed. These tapes proved Zardari had nothing to do with the murder and the accountability bureau was blackmailing the judge to issue a guilty verdict.

Early Years

He was kept in custody from 1997 to 2004 on charges ranging from corruption to murder, all of which were never proven. He was granted bail and released in November 2004 when a judge said the cases were all false.  However, he was re-arrested on 21 December 2004 after his failure to attend a hearing in a murder trial in Karachi. He was charged with conspiracy in the 1996 killing of a judge and his son. These charges coincided with his plans to launch massive protests in the country.

Current Status

Zardari is currently lives in NY but also has a home in Dubai. He is suffering from diabetes and a spinal ailment as a result of his prolonged imprisonment.

In August 2004, Zardari acknowledged 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. However, a British court cleared him of these allegations in 2006.

Zardari has spent a total of 11 years in prison, without ever being convicted. He says that the charges are politically motivated.