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International | Government & Elections

Bhutto's son named as successor
by BBC (reposted)
Sunday Dec 30th, 2007 9:29 AM
Sunday, December 30, 2007 : Benazir Bhutto's 19-year-old son Bilawal is to take over her party with his father as co-chairman, as elections loom.
Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto at the funeral of Benazir Bhutto, 28/12/07

It is thought he will take the role in a ceremonial capacity while he finishes his studies at Oxford University.

Bilawal told journalists at the Bhutto family home: "My mother always said democracy is the best revenge."

Ms Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, who is expected to run the party, said it would contest January elections.

And he appealed to the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to drop his threat to boycott the polls.

"Today's general would like to run (from the election)," he said, in a reference to President Musharraf. "We would not like to give him that chance."

Mr Zardari and his son were speaking at a news conference after a meeting of the leadership of the PPP to hear Ms Bhutto's political will.

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by NY Times (reposted)
Sunday Dec 30th, 2007 9:59 AM
A decade after she led this impoverished nation from military rule to democracy, Benazir Bhutto is at the heart of a widening corruption inquiry that Pakistani investigators say has traced more than $100 million to foreign bank accounts and properties controlled by Ms. Bhutto's family.

Starting from a cache of Bhutto family documents bought for $1 million from a shadowy intermediary, the investigators have detailed a pattern of secret payments by foreign companies that sought favors during Ms. Bhutto's two terms as Prime Minister.

The documents leave uncertain the degree of involvement by Ms. Bhutto, a Harvard graduate whose rise to power in 1988 made her the first woman to lead a Muslim country. But they trace the pervasive role of her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who turned his marriage to Ms. Bhutto into a source of virtually unchallengeable power.

In 1995, a leading French military contractor, Dassault Aviation, agreed to pay Mr. Zardari and a Pakistani partner $200 million for a $4 billion jet fighter deal that fell apart only when Ms. Bhutto's Government was dismissed. In another deal, a leading Swiss company hired to curb customs fraud in Pakistan paid millions of dollars between 1994 and 1996 to offshore companies controlled by Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto's widowed mother, Nusrat.

In the largest single payment investigators have discovered, a gold bullion dealer in the Middle East was shown to have deposited at least $10 million into an account controlled by Mr. Zardari after the Bhutto Government gave him a monopoly on gold imports that sustained Pakistan's jewelry industry. The money was deposited into a Citibank account in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai, one of several Citibank accounts for companies owned by Mr. Zardari.

Together, the documents provided an extraordinarily detailed look at high-level corruption in Pakistan, a nation so poor that perhaps 70 percent of its 130 million people are illiterate, and millions have no proper shelter, no schools, no hospitals, not even safe drinking water. During Ms. Bhutto's five years in power, the economy became so enfeebled that she spent much of her time negotiating new foreign loans to stave off default on $62 billion in public debt.

A worldwide search for properties secretly bought by the Bhutto family is still in its early stages. But the inquiry has already found that Mr. Zardari went on a shopping spree in the mid-1990's, purchasing among other things a $4 million, 355-acre estate south of London. In 1994 and 1995, he used a Swiss bank account and an American Express card to buy jewelry worth $660,000 -- including $246,000 at Cartier Inc. and Bulgari Corp. in Beverly Hills, Calif., in barely a month.

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http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CE5D91F30F93AA35752C0A96E958260
by More
Sunday Dec 30th, 2007 10:02 AM
The Swiss Government has handed over documents to the government of Pakistan which relate to corruption allegations against Pakistan's opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari.

The documents, which have been examined by the BBC, include a formal charge of money laundering and an indictment by the Swiss authorities against Mr Zardari.

A Swiss magistrate says he has evidence that Asif Zardari received commissions from two Geneva-based companies which had contracts with Pakistan's Government.

Mr Zadari is also charged with trying to launder the money - an offence under Swiss law.

[...]

The documents also allege that money appeared to be accessible to Benazir Bhutto and that in August 1997 she used some of it to purchase a diamond necklace for over $175,000.

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http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/12/29/91914/053/611/427540