Veteran politician Hakim Ali Zardari breathed his last in the capital on Tuesday after a prolonged illness.
The 81-year-old father of President Asif Ali Zardari died due to multiple organ failure, according to doctors at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).
Hospital sources said his condition turned critical when his kidneys and lungs stopped functioning on the night of May 23. He was pronounced dead on Tuesday morning at 11:30am. The presidency made a formal announcement through a press statement around an hour later.
Hakim Zardari was admitted to PIMS on March 15 after he slipped in his house and was critically injured.
Initially diagnosed with a chest infection, a CT scan conducted later diagnosed him with brain hemorrhage.
He had been on ventilators for some time and suffered repeated strokes during his stay at the hospital.
A large number of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) members and other politicians gathered at the main entrance of the private ward of the hospital to receive his body but, due to security reasons, his body was taken to the President House through the rear entry of the main emergency ward.
It was subsequently taken to Chaklala air base for departure to Nawabshah, through a helicopter, for burial.
After the funeral at Bilawal stadium in Nawabshah, he was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard Balo Ja Quba near Nawabshah district.
Elected thrice to the National Assembly, the senior Zardari was born to Haji Mohammad Hassan Zardari, landlord from a village called Fatuhal Zardari in 1930. His mother was originally from Iraq. He started his career from Khaksar Tehreek, the social movement started by Allama Mashriqi in 1931, and was elected district council member of Nawabshah in 1965.
When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto launched the Pakistan Peoples Party, Zardari joined it and was elected an MNA in 1970.
After Bhutto’s death, Zardari had a rift with the local leadership of PPP and left the party to join the National Democratic Party (NDP), an off shoot of the National Awami Party that had been banned by the government.
Because of his good relations with Wali Khan, he was made the president of NDP. The party was subsequently restructured under the name of Awami National Party.
Hakim Zardari contested the non-party elections in 1985, but was not able to bag a seat. Later, he re-joined the PPP prior to his son Asif Ali Zardari’s marriage to Benazir Bhutto.
During Benazir’s first government, he was elected to the National Assembly for the second time in 1988 and was later appointed chairman Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.
He was elected an MNA again in 1993 and was jailed during Nawaz Sharif’s and Musarraf’s regimes.
Hakim Zardari was implicated in a few cases and was the co-accused with his son in the murder case of federal secretary science and technology Alam Baloch.
Hakim Zardari had two wives, the first of whom was granddaughter of renowned educationist and founder of Sindh Madressatul Islam in Karachi, Hassanally Effendi.
They had four children – Asif Zardari, Faryal (Talpur), Azra (Pechuho) and Fauzia.
His second wife was the daughter of the first director-general of Radio Pakistan ZA Bukhari and they had no children.
He is remembered by his friends as a liberal, progressive yet persuasive politician who was socially active all his life.
“I found him to be a very good friend. A good man, he never hurt anyone,” former speaker National Assembly Illahi Bux Soomro said.
According to Soomro, Hakim Zardari had an astute business sense which is primarily why he ventured into the entertainment business.
“He set up Bambino Cinema not because he was an art lover. He did so because it was a profitable venture at that time,” he said.
Another close associate of Hakim Zardari, Professor ND Khan said that Zardari was “among a few high calibre, liberal-minded people at the time.”
“He was very persistent which is reflected in his son.”
Khan said that Hakim Zardari had a huge social circle and was very good at making friends.
Public representatives and politicians from across the political spectrum as well as prominent members of society expressed their grief at Hakim Zardari’s demise and lauded his efforts for democratic forces in the country.
With additional input from Hassan Choudary in Islamabad
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2011.