Benazir Bhutto's husband rearrested over murder

The husband of a former Pakistani prime minister, Asif Ali Zardari, accused the country's government of running scared yesterday after he was rearrested only a month after his release on bail raised hopes of reconciliation with the President, Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Zardari, husband of Benazir Bhutto, was seized by police after arriving in Islamabad, the capital, prompting violent clashes with opposition supporters who had gathered in large numbers to welcome him.

"The rulers are afraid of me ... We have the support of the masses," said Mr Zardari, as he was taken away. "I had spoken of compromise after coming out of jail but I was arrested. I will be free again and will continue my efforts for democracy."

The arrest dimmed hopes of a detente between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Ms Bhutto's party, and General Musharraf, the country's army chief and a key ally of Washington in its war on terror. It also appeared to undermine suggestions that Mr Zardari had made a deal with General Musharraf that would see a liberal party, such as the PPP, become a partner in a future government.

The interior ministry denied any political motivation for the arrest and blamed Mr Zardari for missing a bail hearing in a case in which he is accused of involvement in the murder of a High Court judge and his son in Karachi in 1996.

The former cabinet minister, who enjoys widespread popularity despite his imprisonment and a barrage of corruption charges, said he was being victimised. He said that until yesterday no hearing in the murder case had been called for more than four years. Mr Zardari has emerged as a prominent opposition figure since his release from prison on 22 November, widely seen as the result of deal with the government.

The rearrest is the latest episode in the tumultuous political career of a man who shot to prominence when he unexpectedly married the Oxford-educated Ms Bhutto 16 years ago. Eight years later he found himself in prison on charges ranging from conspiracy to murder Ms Bhutto's younger brother, Mir Murtaza, to the illegal importation of a BMW.

He was granted bail on all charges except those related to the luxury car and it was a decision by the Supreme Court in the case last month that made him a free man for the first time in eight years. His supporters claim all the charges are politically motivated.

Ms Bhutto lives in a self-imposed exile, moving between Dubai and a number of homes in Western countries, as she tries to avoid arrest on the same corruption charges as her husband.

Western governments have been watching for any signs that General Musharraf would distance himself from the Islamist coalition Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, whose leaders include Taliban sympathisers. The US State Department voiced no objections to General Musharraf's decision to renege on an agreement to abandon his dual role as President and army chief before the end of the year. A US official said Washington wanted democracy in Pakistan but was reluctant to do anything to destabilise General Musharraf or undermine his support for the war on terror.

Analysts said Mr Zardari's release appeared a short-term ploy by General Musharraf to mute criticism of his plan to remain army chief. But Mr Zardari is likely to have angered the President by calling for a general elections 2005.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Internal Sales Executive - Hair & Beauty - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company supplies the ultim...

Recruitment Genius: Design, Marketing and Media Manager

£27000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: HR Assistant

£17447 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a leading centre fo...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence