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Pakistan's new president

Background - who is Asif Ali Zardari?

Article published on the 2008-09-07 Latest update 2008-09-20 14:50 TU

Asif Ali Zardari at a PPP meeting, Islamabad, August 2008(Photo: Reuters)

Asif Ali Zardari at a PPP meeting, Islamabad, August 2008
(Photo: Reuters)

Asif Ali Zadari was elected on 6 September 2008 has his work cut out to combat the Taliban, improve the country's economy and keep political peace. Maintaining good relations with big neighbour India is yet another issue. It will also be a big challenge for him to shed a shady reputation having faced charges that were later dropped, of corruption, exortion and murder.

Asif Ali Zadari's critics nicknamed him "Mr Ten Per Cent" because his reputation has been so tainted by allegations of corruption. However, he was cleared in 2007 of all remaining charges against him, and he has consistently denied all accusations, claiming they were politically motivated.

In his supporters' view, he has triumphed over injustice, after being locked up in jail for 11 years in total in two jail terms. The first starting in 1990 for three years on charges of blackmail, then again in 1996 for eight years, being cleared of corruption, murder and drug-smuggling in 2004.

He was born on 26 July 1955 in Sindh, the son of a politician, Hakim Ali Zardari, and after schooling in Pakistan, studied business in London.

In 1987, he was married to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of People's Party (PPP) founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his successor at the head of the party.  Benazir Bhutto, who had been Prime Minister before going into exile, was assassinated on 27 December 2007 during an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi, ahead of the elections in February 2008 which brought the PPP back to power.  They had two daughters and a son.

From 1990-93 and 1993-96, Zardari served as a Member of the National Assembly

From 1993-1996, he was Federal Minister for the Environment and from 1995-96 he was Federal Minister for Investment.

The PPP describes Zadari as 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".

The Party also says that there was progress in media freedom under Bhutto, in which he was instrumental, authorising the BBC and CNN to broadcast in Pakistan.

Zardari was elected Senator while in jail in 1997 and served in that capacity until Pervez Musharraf's military coup in 1999.

After his release from jail in 2004, he joined his wife in exile in London, Washington and Dubai.

He was elected Co-Chairman of the PPP in January 2008 following the murder of Benazir Bhutto.

On 6 September 2008, Asi Ali Zadari was elected President of Pakistan.