Former President Asif Ali Zardari was elected by his Pakistan Peoples Party of which he is also Co-Chairman, with an overwhelming majority in the presidential election held on September 6, 2008.
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari was born on July 26th, 1955 in a prominent family from Sindh. He is the son of veteran politician Mr. Hakim Ali Zardari.
He was thrust into the centre stage of current political developments of Pakistan when his late wife, the charismatic former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27th 2007.
Since then he has led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) through successful general elections and worked with former political enemies to form a Government and force President Pervez Musharraf to resign
On his maternal side he is the great-grandson of Khan Bahadur Hassan Ali Effendi, the founder of the first educational institution for Muslims in Sindh the Sindh Madarsatul Islam in Karachi. The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was among the prominent students to graduate from the Sindh Madrasa.
Mr. Asif Zardari belongs to a Sindhi speaking muslim family from the town of Nawabshah in Sindh (Now renamed as Banazirabad). Asif acquired his primary education from the prestigious and prominent Karachi Grammar School and his secondary education from Cadet College, Petaro. However, while a candidate for parliament, a position for which a 2002 rule requires a college degree, Zardari claimed to have graduated from a college in London
He was married to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in 1987 in Karachi and was widowed on December 27, 2007 when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi.
Mrs. Banazir Butto (Zardari) was PPP Chairperson from 1979 until her assassination and was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan of Pakistan. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has three children, Bilawal Butto Zardari, born in 1988, Bakhtawar Butto Zardari, born in 1990 and Aseefa Butto Zardari, born in 1993, from Benazir Bhutto. The children have cosen to keep the family names of both mother & father hence are called “Bhutto Zardari”
Mr Zardari served as a Member of the National Assembly twice (1990-93 and 1993-96), as Federal Minister for the Environment (1993-1996) and as Federal Minister for Investment (1995-96).
Mr Zardari was elected Senator in 1997 and served in that capacity until the dissolution of the Senate following the military coup of 1999.
He was elected Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party in January 2008 following the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
The government of Pakistan Web site says Mr. Zardari?s political career spans two decades spent working closely with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. During this period he helped formulate policies that expanded the freedom of the media, revolutionized telecommunications and opened Pakistan for foreign direct investment.
During Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto?s first term in office CNN and BBC were allowed broadcasting rights in Pakistan and mobile telephone services introduced at Mr Zardari?s initiative. During her second term in office, in addition to the independent power producers (IPPs) being allowed in, Mr Zardari encouraged the introduction of FM radio in the private sector.
Mr Zardari was targeted by his apponentas and anti-democratic forces for vilification and persecution which made him bear the hardships afterwards. He spent eleven and a half years in prison in Pakistan. He won election as MNA and as senator while in prison.
Despite many offers from the government of the time to leave Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) or to go abroad under a negotiated political exit, he remained committed to Party goals and continued his fight for justice and the return of a democratically elected civilian leadership.
Mr. Zardari was asked by the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Pakistan Peoples Party to serve as Chairman of the Party after the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto but he nominated his son Bilawal Who was renamed then carrying family names of both of his fathers and mother’s as Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Since Bilawal was still young and was studying Mr. Zardari accepted the job of Co-Chairmanship?of the PPP.
Under Mr. Zardari?s leadership of the Party, the PPP?s candidate for Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan unopposed. This was a singular and unprecedented event in Pakistan?s political history.
Mr. Zardari also spearheaded the appointment of Dr. Fehmida Mirza as the first female Speaker of Pakistan?s National Assembly, and continues to support the empowerment of women and minorities in all government policy making.
Mr Zardari resolutely stood by his party as well as his wife – although at times he disagreed with the politics of both.
His friends say this was entirely in character and that no-one can deny his personal courage.
A close friend recounts an incident in the 1980s when he was still a polo-playing and horse-riding bachelor.
“We were on a cross-country ride in Karachi when one of our company, the daughter of a German diplomat, fell into a bog with her horse.
“There were 40 of us. We all stood around stunned except for this one man, Asif Ali Zardari, who jumped in and pulled out the girl and then the horse as well.
“During all this time, he could have drowned at any time himself.”
After his release from prison in 2004, Mr Zardari kept a low profile, undergoing medical treatment in Dubai first and later USA.? He suffers from diabetes and a spinal ailment which prevents him from moving around without the help of a walking stick.
He also worked to re-establish his relationship with his children after years of separation from his family.
Ms Benazir Bhutto appreciated her husband’s loyalty, knowing that “despite his failings, he always stood by his family no matter what”, one of her confidants says.? Now he takes over the top post in the country, proving testament to his political skills.
He is faced with a country beset with desperate problems and also has the country’s most popular politician, Nawaz Sharif, sitting on the opposition benches and the ruling class of the country in his government and in his apposition both. Even local media has been behind him trying to fit him in cases sometimes creating a mess between him and the prime minister or some times giving his words different meanings. One of his frieds says “This country had been created by a Sindhi Quid e Azam and has only?been ruled nicely by Sindhi leaders like Bhutto Benazir and Now Zardari”
In His first speech to the joint session of the parliament he said
“Madam Speaker, Honourable Parliamentarians Democracy in Pakistan has finally been restored; but it is still a tender sapling which needs nurturing before it becomes a great sheltering tree.
There are still elements, who want to derail it yet once again.
With faith in democracy and national reconciliation as envisaged by Shaheed Mohtrama Banazir Bhutto we must remain vigilant against such elements.?
The people of Pakistan have great hopes and expectations from this Parliament. To help them realise their dreams we need to join hands and work together in harmony and not in discord. We need to banish forever the politics of destruction and confrontation.
The people yearn for a better future. They long for a Pakistan that was envisaged by the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Qauid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
That indeed is the Pakistan for which Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto gave her life. That is the Pakistan for which we will live. And that is the Pakistan for which I, as President, will lend you all support. As someone who has walked from a death cell to the Presidency, let me assure you, nothing is impossible. I can steer the country out of darkness with the help of this Government.
I am confident that you will rise to their expectations and not disappoint our people. Let us pledge to help build together a secure, strong and prosperous Pakistan.
May Allah help us in this noble mission.
President Asif Ali Zardari while keeping good relations with USA & China has also been having good terms with Iran. He has expressed a desire to make a Monument of Banazir Bhutto in iran to his counter Part President Mahmod Ahamdinejad of Iran.
Mr. Zardari enjoys a big circle of friends internationaly due to importance of Pakistan in the war of terror.
He is having a very hard time as the president of Pakistan from his own ministers which he has himself chosen from a selected group of people who he wanted to please, and his staff at the President house. In his capacity as president he seems to be very?lonely, while his so called alied party leader Nawaz Sharief who may replace him is openly against his government yet?enjoying?all the?benefits?and demands.
He was seen in Quetta this week after a long time when he came out of his house cum prison. The Photo below shows his guards whose presence make him more like a?prisoner?than a president.