Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari born 26 July 1955 is the 12th and current President of Pakistan and the Co-Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Zardari is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who twice served as Prime Minister of Pakistan.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.
Zardari as President of Pakistan:
Zardari was elected president of Pakistan, as Chief election commissioner Qazi Mohammad Farooq announced that "Asif Ali Zardari secured 281 votes out of the 426 valid votes polled in the parliament," In Sindh, Zardari had 62 of the 65 electoral votes while his two main opponents got zero votes; in North West Frontier Province Zardari got 56 votes against 5 by Siddiqui and one by Hussain; in Balochistan, 59 votes while Siddiqui and Hussain got 2 each. However, Zardari did not win the majority in the nation's biggest province, Punjab, where the PML-N's Siddiqui got a clear majority. BBC reported that Zardari "won 481 votes, far more than the 352 votes that would have guaranteed him victory. New York Times said that Zardari would be sworn in "as soon as Saturday night or as late as Monday or Tuesday, diplomats and officials said.
Zardari was challenged by Justice (Retired) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, a former judge nominated by Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, and Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who was nominated by the PML-Q, which backed Musharraf. According to the Constitution of 1973 presently in vogue (but declared for major amendments by Zardari) the President of Pakistan, who must be a Muslim and a male, is elected by an electoral college composed of members of the two houses of parliament - the 342 seat lower house National Assembly and the 100 member upper house Senate, as well as members of the four provincial assemblies - Sindh, Punjab, North West Frontier and Balochistan. The assemblies have total of 1170 seats, but the number of electoral college votes is 702 since provincial assembly votes are counted on a proportional basis. The new president, who obtains the largest number of votes, will serve for five years as Pakistan's 11th president since 1956, when the country became an Islamic Republic, excluding acting presidents and CMLAs [Chief Martial Law Administrators] during times of military rule. Voting was in progress at the Parliament House, while the Senate members finished casting their votes,
Zardari was sworn in by Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar in a ceremony at the presidential palace on 9 September 2008.He addressed the parliament for the first time on 20th Sept,2008, but the event was overshadowed by the suicide bomb blast which destroyed the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad. After that he addressed the nation and left for America to hold talks with U.S. president George Bush.
Candidate's Party Affiliation
Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP)
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.
Bhutto / Zardari Arranged Marriage:
In Pakistan, there is more respect given to married women than to single women. Additionally, a single woman would not be allowed to be head of state. This reality helped Benazir make the decision to agree to an arranged marriage.
After their arranged marriage was announced on July 29, 1987, Asif sent Benazir roses every day and gave her a heartshaped ring of diamonds and sapphires. Benazir had met Asif five days before the public announcement of their planned winter wedding.
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.
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.