Asif Ali Zardari hails from a feudal background – what that means is his father owned land, probably around a few thousand acres somewhere in rural Sindh. The locals who live and farm on the land pay the landlord a rent, or often times rent + half the produce from the land. Generally, this is the only legal source of income for most landlords.
Asif’s family didn’t have much land as compared to the larger Sindhi landlords, and like every other Pakistani landlord, their farming practices were backwards and highly inefficient, making them in essence relatively poor, as compared to the other much larger land owning families in Sindh. While always immensely rich compared to the average Pakistani, Asif grew up with a chip on his shoulder as the class he measured himeself against was much wealthier. Perhaps thats where his innate desire to go overboard on the pursuit of wealth grew from.
Feudal landholders in Pakistan are generally not very rich, despite impressions to the contrary. Their landholdings don’t generate much income. With the spread of industry and urbanization, a number of landlords have become much richer as their lands were near growing cities, hence increasing their value many fold – which enables them to sell off bits and pieces to add to their income.
Asif Ali Zardari’s father owned a small cinema in Karachi, and Asif used to make money on the side by selling cinema tickets, trading in cars, or selling off assets belonging to his family to make money. A life less ordinary, so to speak, there was never anything about him to suggest much more… till he somehow bumped into Benazir Bhutto.
Compared to the Bhutto family, the Zardari’s were practically paupers – so it is one of the unsolved mystries in Pakistan how Benazir’s mother accepted his marriage proposal for her daughter, and Benazir agreed to it. Such was the destiny of a nation determined, in the formal stilted marriage proposal – the bride and groom had not even met! What would a Harvard and Oxford educated woman have in common with a man who never went to college? In a way, accepting the marriage proposal was Benazir’s first step (out of many) to putting her education well behind her: _”Conscious of my religious obligations and duty to my family, I am pleased to proceed with the marriage proposal accepted by my mother.”_ As a aside, there are a number of Ivy League educated feudal politicians in Pakistan, and none of them seem to have learned anything at all there, except how to better lie to western politicians and newspapers.
Getting back to Zardari, a few days/weeks before the marriage proposal, Asif was sitting at a car dealer’s at Tariq Road in Karachi, trying to sell off one of his father’s old Mercedes. A few days after the Marriage proposal, Asif was back in Tariq road, buying a fleet of brand new Mercedes!
Benazir Bhutto was power incarnate in Pakistan back than, a veritable goddess, revered everywhere she went as the saviour of Pakistan. In Pakistan, everything works through power, since everything works through the old boy network. By marrying into power incarnate, Zardari was suddenly elevated right to the top of both Pakistani society and also Pakistani influence – he knew everyone now, and could approach them to get things done.
A sudden influx of money poured into his lap, as feudal lords, politicians and businessmen rushed to do him favors to gain his friendship – the worth of which was increasing every day as the marriage preparations rushed forward, and the gifts kept pouring in.
Not having much money of his own, this was perhaps the time where Zardari got his first taste of wheeling and dealing, and getting things done for ‘free’ through his many new friends. Zardari was excellent as a sort of Facebook for the feudal politician turned businessmen, connecting them to each other through his ever increasing social network, paying back favours by getting work done for X by Y, and for Y by Z, in a ever increasing pyramid scheme of favours done and received, with Zardari getting a cut out of every transaction.
In due time, his wife became Prime Minister, and the sudden rush of even more power liberated Asif Ali Zardari from all semblance of sanity and threw him into a world where he could do anything – anything at all! And so he did, the one thing which he had always striven for his entire life – Money, Money and more Money. Now, one of the aspects of Zardari’s personality is that there is no such thing as laws, morality, ethics or common sense – the way he sees it (again, common to the feudal kind) is that these are the chains of the lesser man, and he is not bound by anything.
During Benazir’s two stints as leader of Pakistan, Zardari looted at least a billion US dollars from Pakistan – not just from cutbacks on govt. contracts, but he also got involved in industrial projects all over Pakistan, relying on equal parts of blackmail, intimidation and ‘favours’ There were other tactics too, of course, but here I suggest you watch a few mafia/gangster movies and the picture will be clear. As the “Godfather” trilogy makes clear, once you assume a position of practically unlimited power, people will line up from miles away and give you money in return for your ‘blessings’ on whatever it is you’re trying to do – everything from import/export, to sugar mills, to exporting towels to the US – it’s amazing how many pies Zardari had his finger in. It was around this time where he got the nickname Mr. 10%, for he somehow was involved and getting commisions on every single large deal of note in the country.
Zardari was the primary reason the Bhutto government was thrown out by the Pakistan Army – along with the fact that the army never liked her in the first place anyways. Somehow Zardari and his by now very much sidekick wife Benazir Bhutto managed to win back power for a second time, and despite hope to the contrary, the by now pair started on a unprecendented looting spree. African dictators had to redouble their efforts in corruption as Zardari and Benazir were catching up to them and threatening to pull ahead.
And so, the Army kicked them out of power yet again, and here is where Zardari and Benazir went their seperate ways – at some point Zardari ended up in jail and spent 10 odd years in and out of jail, while Benazir went globetrotting.
The exact amount of money Zardari stole is disputed of course, but just his very visible assets in Pakistan make up a significant proportion of that, and there are the houses across the world which credible (non political) people and newspapers and governments have confirmed. Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are both tied in joint second place for Pakistan’s most corrupt – the first place is occupied by Musharraf’s band of merry men, whose corruption stories are still slowly making it out to the public at large. The Swiss governement convicted him, and just one of his many mansions outside Pakistan is worth more than his entire legal net worth.
The interesting part about Zardari’s life is that the only constant that he’s always striven for is money – even after he had bucketfalls of it, he never slowed down in the quest to make more and more. In another life, in another world, if he hadn’t gotten fixated on money at the cost of everything else, with that single minded determination applied to just about any other goal he could have really made something out of his life, instead of the pale twisted shadow of a human behing that he’s now become.
So how did Zardari become President of Pakistan? By virtue of marriage – his wife was going to win the elections anwyays, she was shot dead just before, and for some strange reason her party selected Zardari to replace her. The primary reason was the sad fact that the ruling council of Benazir’s party are themselves hideously incompetent – one key chap is a alchoholic basketcase, a couple are mentally retarded, quite a few others have the mental thinking prowess of 4-6 year olds, and none of them collectively have done a honest days work in thier lives.
So it wasn’t much of a fight, and one thing Zardari has is determination and a do everything it takes will to win. It also helped that the competition is one over the hill cricketer and rest are just a bunch of interchangeble crooks.
So now that Zardari has both money and power, what has he done? One of the hopes people had for him is that while he’s corrupt, he’s at least competent and very street smart – so a lot of people thought that if he actually put his mind and will to it, he could achieve a lot for Pakistan. One of Zardari’s first act as President was killing that hope, and banishing it far far away, never to trouble his conscience again, and today he sits as a sorry example of yet another hopelessly out of his depth corrupt crook. He’s way beyond his competence level, and the most damning thing is that he doesn’t even try to do the right thing.
A friend of mine once said, that Pakistan might be in a bad way, but at least it still functions to some extent – it’s a long ways from being a failed state. Musharraf took that challenge to heart, and took Pakistan to the brink of civil war – the only reason there hasn’t been more war is because the govt. of Pakistan has actually left vast terriroties of land inside Pakistan and ‘outsourced’ them to new management under various groups, like different breeds of Taliban, Al Queda, a number of Lashkars, and other various shady groups.
Zardari is continuing that policy of giving up more and more Pakistani land over to different groups of people, and as things go worse it looks like the major Pakistani cities will become islands of govt. control amidst ever growing chaos in the countryside. After the country side falls, the cities will be next. Despite all the many flowery speeches, the actual on the ground actions of the Zardari govt. remain more and more appeasement to whoever has guns. Strangely enough, both Musharraf and Zardari seem to have forgotten that the Pakistan army has a lot more guns than the people they keep handing over land to, and on top of that the Pakistan army is 100% backed by both the US Army as well as NATO.
Damned by birth, marriage and events, Zardari is perched on something that he doesn’t seem to understand, and is doing all the wrong things to boot. Damned too is the country with leaders like Zardari.
Sadly, as ruler of Pakistan, the countries history is tied up with him, and while Zardari will either be dead or in exile in a few years, the country will continue suffering for decades the effects of his misrule. To be fair to Zardari, he is only continuing the norm of misrule as set in back in the ’50’s by Ghulam Mohammad and continued by every leader ever since.
The “official bio of Zardari”:http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/ is below – my comments are in italics. While the official bio is mostly true, what really speaks volumes is all the stuff left out of it.
The other interesting aspect is that how “soft” all the press has become on Zardari. I would love to read a ‘real’ bio of Zardari, but I don’t expect to ever see one. One of the things people like Zardari do well is to lie so much is that not only do they convice other poeple of their lies, they also convince themselves of whatever glorious past they dream up. Like Musharraf’s over cooked bio, Zardari’s is going to be a even bigger steaming pile of dung whenever he gets around to having it written.
*Disclaimer:* The above may or not not be representative of the writer’s views, or of those of anyone elses. One possible theory is that this view of reality might actually exist in it’s own independant space time, from where it was emailed to me by a million chattering monkies.
bq.. President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan
PPP Co-Chairman Senator Asif Ali Zardari was born on July 26, 1955 in a prominent Baloch family from Sindh. He is the son of veteran politician Mr. Hakim Ali Zardari. On his maternal side he is the great-grandson of Khan Bahadur Hassan Ali Effendi, the founder of the first educational institution for Muslims in Sindh. The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was among the prominent students to graduate from the Sindh Madrasa. _And that is why Zardari is a great man, becasue he comes from a family of greatness!_
Mr Zardari received his primary education at the Karachi Grammar School and his secondary education at Cadet College Petaro. He pursued his further education in London where he studied Business. _What he is actually saying is that he never graduated from college, and the college he claims he went to in London doesn’t actually exist._
He was married to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in 1987 and was widowed on December 27, 2007 when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi. Ms Bhutto was PPP Chairperson from 1979 until her assassination and was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. They have three children, Bilawal, born in 1988, Bakhtawar, born in 1990 and Aseefa, born in 1993. _Doesn’t have much to say about the marriage.. hmmm why not?_
Mr Zardari served as a Member of the National Assembly twice (1990-93 and 1993-96), as Federal Minister for the Environment (1993-1996) and as Federal Minister for Investment (1995-96). He was 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. He was also the initiator of the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline project. _The closest Zardari comes to the environment is when he walks amongst the pan peeks of his body guards. Another not so well known fact is that during his tenure as investment minister he scared away some of the biggest names in the energy sector from investing in Pakistan by demanding huge commissions._
Mr Zardari was elected Senator in 1997 and served in that capacity until the dissolution of the Senate following the military coup of 1999. He was elected Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party in January 2008 following the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. _He wasn’t elected, the PPP is so incompetent that they dithered around while their party was stolen by Zardari._
Mr. Zardari’s political career spans two decades spent working closely with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. During this period he helped formulate policies that expanded the freedom of the media, revolutionized telecommunications and opened Pakistan for foreign direct investment. During Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s first term in office CNN and BBC were allowed broadcasting rights in Pakistan and mobile telephone services introduced at Mr Zardari’s initiative. During her second term in office, in addition to the independent power producers (IPPs) being allowed in, Mr Zardari encouraged the introduction of FM radio in the private sector. _Freedom of the media ha ha – this would be funny if it wasn’t for the fact that he is using govt. agencies to restrict freedom of the press these days._
Mr Zardari was targeted by anti-democratic forces for vilification and persecution and bore the hardship with fortitude. He spent eleven and a half years in prison in conditions often unacceptable by human rights standards, without any charge ever being proven against him. He won election as MNA and as senator while in prison. Despite many offers from the government of the time to leave Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) or to go abroad under a negotiated political exit, he remained committed to Party goals and continued his fight for justice and the return of a democratically elected civilian leadership. _There are many wheels within wheels…_
Mr. Zardari was asked by the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Pakistan Peoples Party to serve as Chairman of the Party after the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Although he was elected unopposed, he nominated his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for that role and instead accepted the job of Co-Chairman of the PPP. After Ms. Bhutto’s death he has remained in the frontlines of shaping a national consensus at the federal level on the politics of reconciliation initiated by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. _There is no national consensus, and the only role Zardari has had in shaping one is making sure that there is no one else to have any consensus with._
Under Mr. Zardari’s leadership of the Party, the PPP’s candidate for Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan unopposed. This was a singular and unprecedented event in Pakistan’s political history. _Gillani is actually a puppet, so it doesn’t matter who’s the PM – the rest of the Senate saw that, so they didn’t bother fighting about a complete non-entity in Pakistani politics. The biggest thing of note the prime minster has done so far is babble nonsense in New York, and use public money to throw weddings._
Mr. Zardari also spearheaded the appointment 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. _And with the other hand he made sure his fellow Sindhi feudals could get away with murder and rape on their lands. While he was at it, he also appointed a number of rapists and murderers and women haters to his cabinet._
Today, the PPP government has coalition governments in all of Pakistan’s four provinces. _This would be funny if it wasn’t so wrong. At least one province is no longer part of Pakistan, and most of the others are left ungoverned. It’s a mess out there._
Most recently the PPP, under Mr. Zardari’s leadership, removed General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, the unconstitutional President of Pakistan, from office in a historic move, through a series of complex negotiations and political diplomacy. Mr. Zardari united Pakistan’s major political parties and this unprecedented act was accomplished without any violence. _No violence, true, but the many backdoor deals have doomed Pakistan. He left the Islamic parties in the back door and drove the last nail in the Pakistani legal system._
Mr. Zardari was elected President of Pakistan with an overwhelming majority in the presidential election held on September 6, 2008. _We like corrupt people, it must be said._
President Asif Ali Zardari is also Vice President of the Socialist International, the worldwide organisation of social-democratic, socialist and labour parties which brings together 170 political parties and organisations from all continents. The Socialist International held its 23rd Congress in Athens, Greece from 30 June to 2 July 2008 with close to 700 representatives from 150 parties and organisations of 120 countries attending. The President of Pakistan (at that time invited in his capacity as Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party) was elected as a vice-president of the Socialist International at that meeting. _Is he a communist or what?_
p. Carefully selected scraps of information can’t stitch together patchwork clothes for a wholly naked emperor.