Pakistan’s new president Asif Ali Zardari has been thrust into the centre of the political stage through a set of extraordinary circumstances. Following the dismissal of his wife, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s, government in 1990, he was jailed on charges ranging from murder to bank fraud. He was acquitted and released in 1993, but charges of corruption have dogged him ever since. Jailed again in 1996 he was freed in 2004 and went into exile.
He returned in 2007 when his wife, Benazir Bhutto and her Pakistan People’s Party, stood for election to the national parliament. But Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in December of that year made Zardari co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party and the heir of Bhutto’s pledge to restore democracy to Pakistan.
Following the February election in which the PPP became the leader of the ruling coalition, he began work to remove Pervez Musharraf, the long-standing president of Pakistan who took power in a coup in 1999.
In August, Zardari was successful when Musharraf resigned to avoid impeachment proceedings, laying the way open for his eventual election to Pakistan’s highest office.