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Profile of Asif Ali Zardari

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Asif Ali Zardari is president of Pakistan and the Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). He is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who twice served as Prime Minister of Pakistan. PPP Co-Chairman Senator Asif Ali Zardari was born on July 26, 1955 in a prominent Baloch family from Sindh. He is the son of veteran politician Mr. Hakim Ali Zardari. 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 founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was among the prominent students to graduate from the Sindh Madrasa.

Education
Mr Zardari received his primary education at Karachi Grammar School and secondary education at Cadet College Petaro. Other sources say Asif grew up in Karachi and was educated at St Patrick’s School – ironically also the alma mater of Pervez Musharraf. He pursued his further education in London where he studied Business.

Marriage and family
He was married to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in 1987 and was widowed on December 27, 2007 when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi. Ms Bhutto was PPP Chairperson from 1979 until her assassination and was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan of Pakistan. They have three children, Bilawal (Bilawal: He was born in September 1988. After the death of his mother, Benazir, Bilawal was appointed co-chairman with his father, Asif, of the Pakistan People’s Party), Bakhtawar, born in 1990 and Aseefa, born in 1993.

Party-watchers said Mr Zardari and Ms Bhutto’s marriage had become one of convenience. “They were living their separate lives, but both made sure to keep up appearances,” one close friend says. However, Benazir 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.

Political Career
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). He was the principal architect of the Benazir Bhutto government’s efforts to transform Pakistan’s energy power sector by encouraging major investment opportunities in power generation. He was also the initiator of the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline project.

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 People’s Party in January 2008 following the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

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 anti-democratic forces for vilification and persecution and bore the hardship with fortitude. He spent eleven and a half years in prison in conditions often unacceptable by human rights standards, without any charge ever being proven against him. He won election as MNA and as senator while in prison.

Despite many offers from the government of the time to leave Pakistan People’s 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 People’s Party to serve as Chairman of the Party after the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Although he was elected unopposed, he nominated his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for that role and instead accepted the job of Co-Chairman of the PPP. After Ms. Bhutto’s death he has remained in the frontlines of shaping a national consensus at the federal level on the politics of reconciliation initiated by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

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.

Today, the PPP government has coalition governments in all of Pakistan’s four provinces. Most recently the PPP, under Mr. Zardari’s leadership, removed General (r) Pervez Musharraf, the unconstitutional President of Pakistan, from office in a historic move, through a series of complex negotiations and political diplomacy. Mr. Zardari united Pakistan’s major political parties and this unprecedented act was accomplished without any violence.

Corruption Allegations
In 1990, Zardari 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 Pakistani government dropped the charges this year, after Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto had been offered an amnesty on their corruption charges. The Swiss authorities said that they could no longer pursue the case and that they would release $60 million of Mr. Zardari’s funds.

A report on private banking and money laundering in the United States, done for the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1999, cited allegations that some of Mr. Zardari’s Citibank accounts were used to “disguise $10 million in kickbacks for a gold importing contract in Pakistan.” The report said that Mr. Zardari had accumulated $40 million in Citibank accounts. He denied the charges, and the head of the gold company identified in the report denied he had paid bribes.

He was kept in custody from 1997 to 2004 on charges ranging from corruption to murder. He was granted bail and released in November 2004 when a judge released Zardari under great pressure. However, he was re-arrested on 21 December 2004 after his failure to attend a hearing in a murder trial in Karachi. Former leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, wrote that he found Zardari “a likable rogue” who tried to impress with chatter about his real estate and export deals.

He was famous as Mr. 10% for taking bribes from the people in two terms of Ms. Bhutto as prime Minister.

Mental illness
The British newspaper Daily Telegraph has revealed on August 26, 2008 issue that Asif Ali Zardari is suffering from mental illnesses.

Mr Zardari, co-chair of the Pakistan People’s Party, was diagnosed with a range of psychiatric illnesses, including dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The illnesses were said to be linked to the fact that he has spent 11 of the past 20 years in Pakistani prisons fighting charges of corruption. He claims to have been tortured during his incarceration.

In March 2007, New York psychiatrist Philip Saltiel found that Mr Zardari’s time in detention left him with severe “emotional instability”, memory loss and concentration problems, according to court documents seen by the Financial Times.

Due to this diagnosis by medical experts, the constitution of Pakistan prohibits any person from running in the presidental elections. Also, if such cases arise during the term of a president, the Parliament and Senate have the right to remove that person

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Rubab Saleemhttp://www.rubabsaleem.com
Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times
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9 COMMENTS

  1. I will say that, he is our president because of not enough education in our country, we are also in maturity process. we will insh Allah get the proper and honost leader.

  2. Hi my dear President of Pakistan,Mr.Asif Ali Zardari,u are a nice MAN ,u did good for the country and for the people of Pakistan and hope u will do it continue .I like PPP and want to join this party because i love the people who are the member of PPP.When i will come to Pakistan i will see u .I salute to u and pray to ALLAH for ur’s long life and complete the 5 years term as a president of Pakistan.Take care ,ALLAH HAFIZ.

  3. i like 2 mans n my life one is asif ali zardari and the 2nd is altaf hussain MQM.inshalah i meet n these man plz help me to meet tham i live n peshawar thanx.

  4. Dear Sir,
    Your Kind attention and Action needed regarding Poor workers hard earned money is blocked with (Pakcom Ltd) just for nothing
    Story of instaphone,this is an open book for every one,but still not a part of news paper or judiciary act,Till May 2006, I and my colleague were working smoothly in a merger venture of Pakcom & Paktel.when the Luxembourg-based company Milli com International Cellular (MIC) all of a sudden closed his accounts and invited the bids to sell both Companies but no one needs to purchase the Instaphone as it was not GSM and AIMS switches were failed in pakistan.So Afreen Group came out on the screen and showed his shares very high then others.CEO Mr.Javed Feroz and CFO Mr.Farhat Abbas Naqvi added a clause in the agreement for all Pakcom employees that no one can serve in Paktel before the completion the period of 2-years and Paktel Management was helpless to own the skillful employees.So we were moved to Pakcom under the CEO &CFO,both showed all of us many green gardens and ask to be patience as A big investment is coming to establish GO CDMA,but it was fillop during 2007,when all sales team was fired without any notice,and in 2008 all Finance and other logistc department’s emplyees were given the Letters of
    “THANK YOU” instead of paying them the monthly pending salaries of previous 4-Months and PF,Grtuity,Leave encashment ,Bons etc,and were told that we are arranging funds to pay all the dues in near future but till now no any up-date has been come up ,just think without funds no body can move in financial crises and how we suffered,God knows.when we accessed to UFONE,WARID,MOBILINK for adjustment in telecom sector ,sorry to say that we were rejected as we got the Lable of INSTAPHONE with our documentations.we are still Jobless…………..two & half years Passed but when we contact them they are still arranging funds,at the other hand The CEO is busy in performing Hajj & Umra in time and the working staff is getting handsome salaries in time ,what is our crime we are suffering for?
    “””” Is there any one who step over to us for releasing our funds from Present Management of Instaphone? as its to late and might be …………..and might not be ,but we have learned the lesson to be patience,,,,,”””waiting for a good actionful reply
    Regards
    Kokab Qamar
    Cell # 0321-5671868
    H.No.B-iii-419,Siddiqui Street,Khurrum Colony Muslim Town Rawalpindi
    Circla NA-56

    (Please see below for more details)

    Instasphone (Pakcom Ltd) Cellular company employees elsewhere are known to get good pay packages. In Instaphone, they are actually fighting to get paid.

    Its employees have been negotiating with the management on delayed salaries. They are, however, still doubtful if the company would keep its side of the bargain, pay them on time.

    Disgruntled employees include lower, middle and senior level executive officers. Most of these employees, who have given over a decade to Instaphone, have not been paid four months salaries & fired without payment of Final settlement.

    Instaphone was the subsidiary of Arfeen Group (Pakistani group). Arfeen took over Instaphone in May 2006 when the Luxemburg-based company Millicom International Cellular (MIC) disinvested. Currently, Javaid Feroz is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Instaphone.

    On May 21, 2008, the government cancelled Instaphone’s licence when the company ran into financial difficulties and failed to pay its dues to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

    According to sources in PTA, Instaphone had been extended every concession and was fully accommodated in terms of time, which had been the licensee’s main concern and request. Instead of availing the concessions, Instaphone had been abusing the extra time and despite the number of opportunities given to it, had failed persistently in showing a serious approach towards its obligations under the licence and regulatory directives.

    South Korea Telecom and then Russian telecom investors, Altimo, also backed off due to poor investment climate and political instability. Nonetheless, Instaphone had taken the matter of cancellation of their licence to court to buy some more time. The decision was still pending.

    “We were one of the first cellular companies. We could have done well. But the owners did not think globally and act locally. The company is now on the verge of disaster,” said a member from the senior management in Instaphone. During the period of MIC the company was generating revenues and earning profits. But since Arfeen took over (two years back), Instaphone has been facing losses and has lost its corporate image severely, he said, adding that “with billions of rupees in unpaid liabilities, Instaphone owes millions in licence fee, beside the promised health care and employees compensation claims. It’s almost a dead company. Instaphone has brutally damaged consumer and employee rights”.

    Instaphone employees had not been paid their salaries since May 2008. It had become a normal practice for the company to delay salaries. “And it has been so since January.

    The CEO did not seem to pay any heed to the hue and cry of the employees despite having been reminded on countless occasions. The company’s redundant status has weakened employees professionally and financially. They are in distress,” the senior officer said.

    Recently, nearly 30 staff members had been served with Letter of Thanks on immediate basis by Instaphone without clearing their dues which included last two to three months salaries, provident fund, gratuity and leave encashment, etc.

    The executive, who saw no hope of the company carrying itself out of the crisis, sympathised for the situation in which Instaphone’s employees found themselves in. “Even the employees, who left at the start of 2008, are yet to receive their clearance dues.”

    “Adding insult to injury, we have been stripped of our medical insurance facility since February due to non-payment of premium by Instaphone, which clearly violates the employment contract we were served with at the time of joining,” said another Instaphone employee requesting not to be identified.

    “It is criminal negligence attitude on the part of the management of Arfeen Group. It hurts even more when our families have to suffer too,” he added.

    A senior executive in Instaphone Lahore office, who was among the laid off staff, said he was still willing to work with Instaphone. “I started my professional career with Instaphone and gave 12 years to the company. But they have to pay us sooner or later. The entire customer’s operations department, customer’s relations management and sales staff were told that the systems in Lahore office were being shut down and they were being laid off,” he said.

    Calling for an end to uncertainty over his future, an Instaphone executive in Karachi said he had been living in torture for the last three months because he had not received his salary.

    “We can’t pay school fees. It’s becoming difficult to even keep the kitchen running. Worst of all, there are no jobs for us because we carry the brand of Instaphone with us on our CVs everywhere we go. This is the worst management,” said the displeased officer.

    And as one of the executives put it, “with the company losing its subscribers fast, Instaphone is now a non-existent entity”.

    Nonetheless, optimistic that Instaphone still had a future, its CEO Javaid Feroz said the two telecom companies (SK Telecom and Russian Altimo) had “not backed off”.

    “Rather they are waiting for the investment climate to get better and political stability. Chances are that Instaphone will get back in the game,” said Mr Feroz.

  5. Hounourable Mr.Asif Ali Zardari Bhutto is the pride of nation.The people of Pakistan were in need of such a strong leader who can take them to their end.This is very good sign that the ruling party as a whole has the essential qualification to rule as they know how to spend time in jail while boosting up their political image.the perception of the great leaders play a key role in the progress of a nation and Mr.Zardari know how to lead the country to the highway of prosperity.I hope that the leadership of Sir Zardari will prove enough as we cannot have the leader like him.Still I would like to say “PAKISTAN ZINDABAAD” because I believe that PAKISTAN is the miracle of the 19th century.Miracles can be denied but cannot be destroyed. Thanks Allah that Iam a Pakistani not Punjabi.

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