Bhutto Widower Plagued by Mental Illness

Presidential contender Zardari has suffered from dementia, PTSD
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2008 7:57 AM CDT
Supporters of Pakistan People's Party share sweets in front of a giant portrait of their party head Asif Ali Zardari at a rally to celebrate his decision to run for Pakistani presidency.   (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
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(Newser) – The leading candidate to succeed Pervez Musharraf as president of Pakistan has a long history of mental illness and was suffering from severe psychiatric problems as recently as 2007, reports the Financial Times. Asif Ali Zardari, who took over the Pakistan People's Party after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto, has been diagnosed with dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, court documents say.

Zardari spent 11 of the past 20 years in jail, where he says he was tortured. A New York psychiatrist concluded that his imprisonment left him suffering from "emotional instability," along with a faulty memory and concentration problems; other practitioners made similar diagnoses. But Pakistan's ambassador to Britain, a longtime Bhutto ally, said that doctors have "declared him medically fit to run" for the presidency of a nuclear-armed country.