In April 1993, he became one of the 18 cabinet ministers in the caretaker government that succeeded Nawaz Sharif's first abridged premiership. The caretaker government lasted until the July elections. After Bhutto's election, he served as her Investment Minister, chief of the intelligence bureau, and the head of the Federal Investigation Agency. In February 1994, Benazir sent Zardari to meet with Saddam Hussein in Iraq to deliver medicine in exchange for three detained Pakistanis arrested on the ambiguous Kuwait-Iraq border. In April 1994, Zardari denied allegations that he was wielding unregulated influence as a spouse and acting as "de-facto Prime Minister". In March 1995, he was appointed chairman of the new Environment Protection Council.
During the beginning of the second Bhutto Administration, a Bhutto family feud between Benazir and her mother, Nusrat Bhutto, surfaced over the political future of Murtaza Bhutto, Nusrat's son and Benazir's younger brother. Benazir thanked Zardari for his support. In September 1996, Murtaza and seven others died in a shootout with police in Karachi, while the city was undergoing a three-year civil war. At Murtaza's funeral, Nusrat accused Benazir and Zardari of being responsible and vowed to pursue prosecution. Ghinwa Bhutto, Murtaza's widow, also accused Zardari of being behind his killing. President Farooq Leghari, who would dismiss the Bhutto government seven weeks after Murtaza's death, also suspected Benazir and Zardari's involvement. Several of Pakistan's leading newspapers alleged that Zardari wanted his brother-in-law out of the way because of Murtaza's activities as head of a breakaway faction of the PPP. In November 1996, Bhutto's government was dismissed by Leghari primarily because of corruption and Murtaza's death. Zardari was arrested in Lahore while attempting to flee the country to Dubai.
Asif Ali Zardari (Urdu: آصف علی زرداری, Sindhi: آصف علي زرداري; born 26 July 1955) is the 11th President of Pakistan. He is co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who served two nonconsecutive terms as Prime Minister.
A Sindhi from a landowning tribe of Baloch origin, Zardari rose to prominence after his marriage to Bhutto in 1987. Between 1993 and 1996, he held various cabinet positions in the second Bhutto administration.
He was arrested on charges of corruption in late 1996, following the collapse of the Bhutto government. Although incarcerated, he nominally served in Parliament after being elected to the National Assembly in 1990 and Senate in 1997. He was released from jail in 2004. He subsequently went into self-exile in Dubai, but returned in December 2007 after Bhutto’s assassination. As the Co-Chairman of the PPP, he led his party to victory in the 2008 general elections. He spearheaded a coalition that forced Musharraf to resign and was elected President on 6 September 2008.
As president, Zardari has been a consistently strong U.S. ally in the war in Afghanistan, despite prevalent public disapproval of the nation’s involvement in the conflict. In late 2008, his government obtained a three-year multi-billion dollar loan package from the International Monetary Fund in an effort to steer the nation out of an economic crisis. In early 2009, his attempt to prevent the reinstatement of Supreme Court judges failed in the face of massive protests led by Nawaz Sharif, his chief political rival. The passage of the 18th Amendment in 2010 reduced his vast presidential powers to that of a ceremonial figurehead.