By Omar Waraich in Islamabad and Andrew Buncombe | The Indepencent, Sunday, 24 August 2008
Less than a year ago Asif Ali Zardari appeared to be yesterday’s man. Seemingly sidelined by his wife, Benazir Bhutto, and her party, facing a series of corruption charges and bearing the nickname “Mr 10 Per Cent”, it appeared that his days of power and influence were over.
Now he is back, as never before. Having been catapulted to the forefront of Pakistan’s political maelstrom by the assassination of his wife, Mr Zardari is poised to become his country’s head of state. At the end of a remarkable week which saw Pervez Musharraf (inset) resign as president to avoid impeachment, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) announced that its chosen candidate to replace him would be Mr Zardari.
The man who spent 11 years in jail over corruption charges he claims were politically motivated, yesterday confirmed he would take the post. It would have been remarkable if the party he has led since his wife’s death last December had not agreed to nominate him. Yesterday PPP officials were meeting with coalition partner Nawaz Sharif to try to secure his backing for the nomination. “We want a joint candidate for the race,” said PPP spokesman Jameel Soomro.