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Zardari released on parole

Karachi, Jan. 21 (AFP): Pakistan today temporarily released former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari to attend a religious ceremony for his wife’s recently deceased stepmother, lawyer Farooq Naik said.

Zardari, a former senator and minister in his wife’s Cabinet, has been in jail on corruption and criminal charges since Bhutto’s second dismissal from power in 1996. Bhutto, who has been in self-imposed exile since 1998 and also faces a raft of graft charges, says her spouse is being held as a political prisoner by regimes opposed to her.

Zardari was also released for several days in November to attend his own mother’s funeral.

That release came amid fevered speculation that the former military regime of President Pervez Musharraf was preparing to release Zardari in return for Bhutto’s party joining an army-backed party to jointly lead the civilian government elected October 10.

Zardari said at the time that he refused to enter any deal with the military. Naik said Zardari, released on parole, was to travel tomorrow to the Bhutto family’s hometown of Larkana in southern Pakistan.

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