Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022
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The End Of The Affair

The End Of The Affair

Has Asif Zardari become too much of a liability—personal and political—for Benazir Bhutto to continue her marriage with him?

The End Of The Affair The End Of The Affair

"The marriage is over. Both have decided to move on... there has even been a distribution of assets." A prominent Pakistani close to both Benazir and Zardari


"Had Benazir married someone else, PPP would be different. Bhutto was anything but corrupt. Asif put a blot on the record." A PML(Q) politician linked to intelligence agencies


When the generals in Pakistan were mulling the option of releasing Asif Zardari from prison, a close confidant of President Pervez Musharraf weighed in with this quip about ex-premier Benazir Bhutto's husband, "Mr President, it's about time we release him. He'll prove more damaging to the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) outside jail than inside." Accordingly, Zardari was released in November 2004 to rapturous receptions, prompting many swooning admirers to see in his long years of separation from Benazir—and their imminent coming together—a dramatic real-life parallel to Veer-Zara, the Bollywood film then immensely popular in Pakistan. The inveterate romantic here even began to describe the two as Pakistan's Veer-Zara.

A little over two years from that heady, emotional November, as we settle into 2007, a chill seems to have seeped into the romantic saga that the Benazir-Zardari matrimony has always been for this country. The fizz has gone out of the love story, Benazir and Zardari don't live together, their marriage is an empty shell, a partnership of pretences, a form they must maintain because Pakistan, like much of South Asia, can't accept a woman politician divorced from her husband. You could say it's a separation that's still dressed as marriage, you could say Musharraf's confidant, in a way, has been proved prescient.

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