MR. ASIF ALI ZARDARI
Former President Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Asif Ali Zardari was born on 26 July 1955 to a Baloch family from Sindh province.
Mr. Zardari received his secondary education at Cadet College Petaro. He further pursued his education in London where he studied Business.
He was married to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in 1987 who was Prime Minister of Pakistan twice (1988-90 and 1993-96). Ms. Bhutto was assassinated in an attack in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007. They have three children, Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Aseefa.
Mr. Zardari’s political career spans two decades. He served as a Member of the National Assembly twice (1990-1993 and 1993-1996), as Federal Minister for Environment (1993-1996), and as Federal Minister for Investment (1995-1996). In 1997, he was elected Senator and served in that capacity until the dissolution of the Senate in 1999.
During this period, he helped formulate policies that expanded media freedom and access, revolutionized telecommunications, and opened Pakistan for foreign direct investment.
During Ms. Bhutto’s first term in office, Mr. Zardari initiated broadcasting rights to CNN and BBC in Pakistan and introduced mobile telephone services nationwide. During her second term, Mr. Zardari was a principal architect in efforts to transform Pakistan’s power sector by encouraging major investment through independent power producers (IPPs). He was also a key initiator of the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline project besides encouraging the introduction of FM radio in the private sector.
Following the 1990 elections, Mr. Zardari was wrongly implicated on a request by the then Government of Pakistan made under Mutual Assistance. In 2008, the case was closed after citing there was no evidence to bring Mr. Zardari to trial. In 1996, after a change of government, Mr. Zardari was again arrested. From 1997 to 2004, Mr. Zardari was unjustly imprisoned on various corruption charges for 11 years without any charges proven against him.
After the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Mr. Zardari was asked by the Central Executive Committee of the PPP to serve as Chairman of the Party. Although he was elected unopposed, he nominated his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for that role and volunteered to serve the Party as its Co-Chairman.
In 2008, Mr. Zardari was elected President of Pakistan. Under President Zardari, the PPP’s candidate Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani was unanimously elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Mr. Zardari also spearheaded the election 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.
On 8 September 2013, Zardari became the country’s first President to complete his constitutional term. He served as the 11th President of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013.
Mr. Zardari has been anointed as the head of the ‘Zardari tribe’ on December 31, 2014.