Pakistan goes to the polls today to elect a successor to Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month to avoid facing impeachment. The contest is widely expected to be won by the widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Asif Ali Zardari was thrust into the centre of politics by his wife’s murder late last year. Shortly afterwards he become head of the Pakistan People’s Party which won February’s parliamentary election.
However, he is a highly controversial figure who divides and unites people in almost equal measures. Zardari spent 11 years in jail on corruption and other charges, and although he was never convicted he is seen by many as being unfit to rule the country.
Pakistan’s dwindling economy and a split in the PPP-led coalition last month has also exacerbated political uncertainty and raised fresh concerns about Islamic militant violence.