On her recent trip to New York, Sarah Palin palled around with one of the world’s most corrupt heads of state. She and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari shared some photo-op moments to burnish her foreign policy credentials. However, given that Governor Palin is so quick to point out other people’s "associations", it makes me wonder why she would choose to meet with a man famous in his own country for murder, theft, and corruption.
Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto, is known in Pakistan and the rest of South Asia as "Mr. 10%". He didn’t get the nickname because he is lazy and only puts out 10% effort. He got the nickname because, when his wife was prime minister of Pakistan, he presided over massive kickback and shakedown schemes that earned him over a billion dollars. He funneled his money into three Swiss banks accounts via shell companies he had set up in Dubai. The US Senate detailed some of these bank accounts and transactions in a 1999 report on international money laundering:
It has been reported that the government of Pakistan claims that Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari stole over $1 billion from the country.
During the period 1994 to 1997, Citibank opened and maintained three private bank accounts in Switzerland and a consumer account in Dubai for three corporations under Mr. Zardari’s control. There are allegations that some of these accounts were used to disguise $10 million in kickbacks for a gold importing contract to Pakistan.
Mr. Zardari is also widely believed to have orchestrated the murder of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, his brother-in-law. Mr. Zardari also found himself in the middle of a bizarre case in 1990 when he was accused of "tying a remote-controlled bomb to the leg of a businessman and sending him into a bank to withdraw money from his account as a pay-off."
All told, Zardari has spent 11 and half years in jail for various corruption convictions. Until last year, Zardari claimed to have been suffering from "dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder" to avoid prosecution in European courts. Now that he has been appointed Pakistan’s president, he claims he is feeling much better.
Asif Ali Zardari is the butt of jokes in Pakistan. Knowing Mr. Zardari’s history, why would Governor Palin choose to pal around with him? Someone should ask Sarah Palin why she chooses to associate with Pakistan’s "Mr. 10%".