Asif Zardari had served as the President of Pakistan (2008–13) and co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) following the assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, on December 27, 2007.
Asif Zardari – Early Life And Marriage
Zardari—the son of Hakim Ali Zardari, a Sindhi landlord, businessman, and politician—was educated at Saint Patrick’s School in Karachi and later studied business in London. He gained a reputation as a playboy and later demonstrated little interest in the political scene. His betrothal to Bhutto, who was the daughter of the former president (1971–73) and prime minister (1973–77) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, surprised many observers.
On December 18, 1987, the two were married in an arranged and relatively simple ceremony, and they went on to have three children: a son, Bilawal, and two daughters, Bakhtwar and Asifa.
Entrance Into Political Life
The couple had been married less than a year when Pres. Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq was killed, ending more than a decade of military rule. Bhutto’s subsequent success at the polls ushered her into office as prime minister. In 1990 her tenure was cut short by corruption-related scandal, however, and both Zardari and his wife were the focus of attacks from opposition politicians as well as disgruntled members of the PPP, Bhutto’s own party.
In the parliamentary elections of February 2008, Zardari easily won the September presidential elections.
Zardari’s term was marked by increased U.S. involvement in Pakistan. The United States had expanded its use of drone strikes in Pakistan to target Pashtun militants who were waging a guerrilla campaign against international forces and the Afghan government in the Afghanistan War.
In 2011 the United States located and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad not far from Pakistan’s premier military academy, striking a blow to Pakistan’s image internationally for its failure to capture the al-Qaeda leader.
Political Life After The Presidency
Zardari continued to play a key role in the PPP in the years after his presidency. He left the country in 2015. Shortly after his return in late 2016, he announced his intention to contest the 2018 legislative elections, after which he entered the National Assembly as one of the leaders of the opposition. As a growing number of opposition figures were pursued on corruption charges, including Nawaz Sharif, Zardari himself was arrested in June 2019 on charges of money laundering.