Former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari was recently arrested for his connection to a large-scale money laundering operation. Zardari’s application for pre-arrest bail was rejected.
The money laundering operation saw millions of dollars siphoned out of the country, according to Al Jazeera. Zardari was president from 2008 to 2013 and has been plagued with corruption allegations throughout his political career. The most recent charges allege that Zardari was laundering millions of dollars through suspicious foreign bank accounts and businesses. According to the Washington Post, Pakistani authorities had discovered that several bank accounts under the names of poor people had recently been filled with cash and then suddenly emptied. A commission in charge of investigating this case found that more than $400 million had passed through these accounts.
According to Al Jazeera, several small scuffles between police and supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party opposition party took place outside Zardari’s home on Monday while he was being taken into custody. It is reported that Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur is also under investigation by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Despite this, both the former president and his sister have always strongly denied any wrongdoing in connection with these cases.
“Zardari has always been a controversial figure in Pakistani politics,” said Kamal Hyder, a reporter for Al Jazeera. “He earned himself the nickname of Mr Ten Percent because of all the money he was taking on the deals.” He continued by saying “The federal investigation agency came out with substantial evidence to suggest that Zardari and his party were indeed involved with [wrongdoing]… Of course it’s going to cause quite a stir in Pakistani politics because the political parties will be saying that this is political victimization. But [Prime Minister] Imran Khan had already said he is really big on accountability and he wants to make sure that nobody escapes as far as accountability is concerned.”
Many of Zardari’s supporters believe that the arrest was politically motivated and that the government is involved. When asked about this, Interior Minister Ejaz Shah claimed that “The government had no role in [the arrest],” and continued by iterating that “This is done by the NAB. Our government has nothing to do with it.”
Corruption in any sense is never a good thing, especially when it comes to government. A corrupt head of state could spell disastrous consequences for the people in that state. While Zardari is no longer in power, he is still being accused of serious money laundering for his own personal gain. Because of this, the actions of the Pakistani government, as well as the local authorities should be applauded. Their investigation to find the perpetrators of these crimes has been swift and comprehensive. Although Zadari’s arrest may cause controversy within the political sphere in Pakistan, it has ultimately avoided any further wrongdoing within Pakistan as well as on the international stage. Because of these actions, the Pakistani government should consider this a victory.
Before serving as president, Zardari worked as a businessman and became a very popular playboy in his younger years. His power and popularity rose dramatically in 2008 following the death of his wife Benazir from a suicide bomber. Zardari’s arrest comes at a difficult time for the country’s economy, as it continues to spiral out of control with repeated devaluations of the rupee, increases in inflation, and rising utility prices.
It is unclear what will happen next with Zardari’s case. If he is found guilty, he could spend several years in prison, something that would damage his legacy forever. Prime Minister Imran Khan is making a concerted effort to crack down on corruption in all facets of Pakistani life. If Zardari is convicted, it would most likely be a step in the right direction and would hopefully set the country on a path of honesty and prosperity among its elected officials.
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